Rep. DeFazio Introduces Transportation Infrastructure Legislation

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced a transportation infrastructure bill on March 22 that he said will increase the gasoline and diesel tax by about a penny to provide about $500 billion in funding to rebuild U.S. roads, bridges and transit systems.

DeFazio’s “Investing in America: A Penny for Progress Act,” would index the federal gasoline and diesel tax to the National Highway Construction Cost Index and Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, he said.

While most users would pay a penny extra at the pump, DeFazio’s bill calls for a 1.5-cent cap.

To finance the additional investment, the bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Treasury to issue 30-year Invest in America Bonds annually, through 2030, with each bond being repaid at the end of its 30-year term using revenue from indexing the gasoline and diesel user fee beginning in 2017.

“The president’s key component in his campaign was a trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure,” DeFazio said at a news conference. “I’m trying to help deliver on that with real investment. There is some question and, I think, debate going on at the White House on whether they’re going to do real investment or are they going to do pretend investment.”

DeFazio said his legislation would bring roads and bridges up to good repair condition within 15 years and “put hundreds of thousands of people to work.”

Although public-private tolling projects may be “a useful tool in the toolbox,” they will not be adequate to repair the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, DeFazio said.

“If we’re going to rebuild the public infrastructure, it takes public investment,” he said. “…This is going to take real federal investment. There’s no question about it.”