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BPC’s Nellenbach on Senate EPW Highway Bill Markup

“After years of discussion and delay, Congress has finally made good on the promise to advance serious bipartisan infrastructure legislation with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Work’s mark-up today of bipartisan legislation to reauthorize federal surface transportation programs,” says Michele Nellenbach, director of strategic initiatives at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Tom Carper (D-DE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), importantly maintains the federal funding commitment to the nation’s surface transportation programs. Additionally, it addresses several key areas:

Regulatory Reform: Codifies “one federal decision,” an administration effort to reduce the time it takes and costs associated with gaining federal permits and project approvals, to address a key barrier to private investment.

Climate Resilience: Allows states to use up to 15 percent of specific grants for protective features that enhance road and bridge resiliency, and increases the federal cost share associated with protective features to mitigate a recurring problem or potential future costs.

Long-term Funding: Authorizes a study, several pilot programs, and a federal advisory committee to identify alternative, long-term funding options similar to BPC’s Great American Rebuild Initiative.

“While BPC commends these important provisions, we encourage the committee to amend Section 1507 so all project delivery options are considered on a level playing field,” said Nellenbach. “In addition to new, retrospective reporting requirements, the section singles out public-private partnerships for new economic analyses which would greatly benefit all infrastructure projects. BPC and members of its Executive Council on Infrastructure look forward to working with lawmakers to develop language that is neutral as to project procurement.”

BPC’s Executive Council on Infrastructure

BPC’s Executive Council on Infrastructure is a working group of CEOs and executives from the financial, industrial, logistics, and services industries that has developed recommendations to drive increased private sector investment in U.S. infrastructure.