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A $1.5 trillion infrastructure package advanced by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 1 will never be enacted into law, said the top Republican on the chamber’s transportation panel.
Missouri Republican Sam Graves, ranking member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, explained the measure’s primary focus on massive overhauls of non-transportation regulations diminishes the bill’s chances of advancing in the Republican-led Senate.
Graves also had expressed disappointment over the lack of Republican input House Democrats considered during the debate in committee on surface transportation policy. And he criticized the lack of attention paid to resolving the Highway Trust Fund’s looming insolvency.
This is a terrible bill that will never become law, but at least Republicans were able to help fix this one egregious failure in the bill. Even dozens of liberals voted with us to make this fix.— Rep. Sam Graves (@RepSamGraves) July 1, 2020
As he put it, “If this effort had been taken seriously, the House would have voted to empower our states and local communities to move ahead with long-term transportation plans and projects to help rural and urban communities alike, providing a dose of desperately needed stability during one of the most uncertain times for transportation sectors and workers that I can remember.”
Graves continued, “To put it simply, the House passed a bill that won’t get signed into law and won’t do anything for our infrastructure.”
The House package includes a nearly $500 billion highway policy proposal that would update a 2015 highway law. That law, called the FAST Act, expires at the end of September.
Senate Republican transportation leaders have echoed Graves’ sentiment about the House bill. Republican managers in the upper chamber have yet to schedule a floor debate on infrastructure policy.
Last year, a Senate committee advanced a five-year highway bill that lacked freight and transit provisions. And, like the House bill, the Senate measure does not propose a resolution for the Highway Trust Fund’s woes. The fund is backed by dwindling revenue from the 24.4 cents-per-gallon diesel tax and 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax. Those rates were set in 1993.
Meanwhile, the White House has not announced this year a funding proposal for an infrastructure plan as various stakeholders call on lawmakers to embrace bipartisanship.
“As the process advances, freight railroads urge the House and Senate to abandon controversial policies and instead work together to deliver the infrastructure funding necessary to meet our nation’s needs today and into the future,” said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jefferies.
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