May 12 2015

Fischer Introduces Transportation Bill Modeled on NE Success

Build USA Act Would Create American Infrastructure Bank, Giving States More Control and Eliminating Costly Regulations that Delay Action

WASHINGTON – This afternoon, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced a new transportation bill known as the S. 1296 Build USA Act. Core infrastructure projects have been at a standstill across the country due to excessive regulations and a lack of transportation funding. Meanwhile, millions of Americans sit in endless traffic jams on decaying roads as construction projects remain stalled. To get America moving, the Build USA Act will create the American Infrastructure Bank (AIB) and would offer states new financing and funding tools to generate transportation projects – an innovative approach with proven results back in Nebraska. Senator Fischer released the following statement after introducing the bill today:

“Our nation’s infrastructure is in need of repair and expansion. As millions of Americans sit in endless traffic jams and travel over decaying bridges, our government continues to waste time and money. It is time to think outside the box and offer bold solutions that will stop this cycle and provide states with the flexibility to start rebuilding our core infrastructure.

“My bill adheres to three important points: reduce regulatory burdens, redirect funding, and provide states with more authority to manage their highways and bridges. Nebraska has gained successful results with this model and it’s time to bring best practices from our states to the national discussion. By letting our states manage these projects, we can get America moving safely and securely for decades to come.”

States face significant challenges starting and completing infrastructure projects due to excessive procedural costs, delays, and a lack of transportation funding. For example, according to the Congressional Research Service, major highway projects can take up to 14 years to build. States need more flexibility, better transportation funding tools, and additional financing options to help them begin and complete vital infrastructure projects. 

The Build USA Act would generate transportation funding through establishing a new American Infrastructure Bank (AIB). Under this legislation, states would have the opportunity to enter into three-year agreements with the AIB. Through these voluntary agreements, states would have the option to remit federal transportation dollars, apply for a transportation project loan through the AIB, or both. 

Through a state-AIB remittance agreement, states would receive 90 percent of the remitted money for core infrastructure projects, and states would assume authority and oversight for compliance with certain federal regulations and requirements. Voluntary repatriated dollars (over a three-year period) would be used to capitalize the bank and fund AIB infrastructure loans, along with interest revenues and receipts from remittance agreements. Only core infrastructure projects would be eligible for completion under state-AIB agreements and loans. 

Reuters previewed Senator Fischer’s bill last night, noting:

In a new twist, Fischer's aides said the legislation would reduce regulatory hurdles by allowing states to decide whether their projects comply with federal requirements for environmental approval, construction design, right-of-way acquisition and other procedures.

In exchange, a state would be required to remit federal highway dollars to the bank over a three-year period and receive back 90 cents on the dollar for core infrastructure projects. The remaining 10 percent would be available as project loans at below-market rates.

Click here to view text of S.1296 Build USA Act.

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