Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who is set to become Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 116th Congress, said Nov. 6 that a major infrastructure package funded by real dollars would be his first order of business in January.
With current surface transportation law set to expire in 2020, Rep. DeFazio said during a call with reporters that he would begin work on a new surface transportation bill in January as well as a separate infrastructure package. Rep. DeFazio reportedly met with White House Legislative Affairs Director Shahira Knight before the election, during which she conveyed the President’s “sincere” desire to work with Democrats on an infrastructure package.
Infrastructure is largely viewed as one issue where bipartisan agreement will be possible next year.
Of importance to truckstops and travel plazas, Rep. DeFazio spoke about the shortcomings of the $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan put forth by the Administration in early 2018, saying it was full of “pretend stuff” such as privatization and asset recycling.
The Administration in its infrastructure framework called for asset recycling, which could very easily lead to tolling and rest area commercialization, both of which are actively opposed by NATSO. Implemented by the Australian Government, asset recycling funds new infrastructure and revitalizes existing infrastructure through the sale or lease of public assets.
The Administration’s proposal also failed to address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund or long-term sustainable funding for infrastructure.
During the Nov. 6 call, Rep. DeFazio also expressed support for the creation of an infrastructure subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee, which is being pushed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). Creating the new subpanel would require a House rules change as the Ways and Means Committee is already maxed out with five subcommittees.
Congressman DeFazio has long sought to increase funds for the nation’s infrastructure, and previously introduced “A Penny for Progress.” The legislation would have authorized the U.S. Department of Treasury to issue 30-year Invest in America Bonds annually through 2030. Under the measure, the bonds would generate nearly $500 billion in additional revenues for the Highway Trust Fund that must be put toward authorized highway and transportation projects.
NATSO applauded Congressman DeFazio when he introduced a “A Penny for Progress” in 2017 for putting forth a sound proposal to boost desperately needed revenues into the Highway Trust Fund.
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