Uncertainty in Future Highway Funding Focus of Finance Committee Hearing

Bennet Urges Long-Term Plan to Maintain U.S. Competitiveness

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee today held a hearing to discuss the need for investment in roads, highways, and other transportation projects. The panel heard from a range of experts about how Congress can address the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund. The trust fund is expected to go bankrupt by August, leaving no funding for road construction, bridge repair, and transit projects. Colorado stands to lose $200 million in highway and transit funding just next year, massively disrupting transportation projects throughout the state.

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Finance Committee, earlier this year introduced a bipartisan bill to complement the permanent funding stream of the Highway Trust Fund with an infrastructure bank.

“We aren’t even maintaining our existing assets, much less building a better, stronger America for our kids and grandkids,” Bennet said. “Rather than pass a bill that meets our long-term needs, Congress has chosen to instead pass a series of short-term extensions and general fund transfers barely sufficient to keep the Highway Trust Fund afloat. It’s a textbook example of Washington’s tendency to lurch from crisis to crisis.

“If we don’t want to be the first generation to leave less opportunity to our kids and grandkids, then we need to work on a solution to build the infrastructure that will help us compete in the 21st century economy. That’s one reason Senator Blunt and I introduced the bipartisan Partnership to Build America Act, which would create an infrastructure bank to help finance our crucial infrastructure needs. We need to find a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund, and we need to work to build a better future for the next generation.”

The Partnership to Build America Act, cosponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), establishes a $50 billion infrastructure fund that can potentially support hundreds of billions in loans, bond guarantees and other financing authority for state and local governments. Using a public-private partnership model, the fund would be capitalized by encouraging U.S. companies to purchase bonds. If companies purchase the bonds, they will be allowed to exempt a portion of their overseas earnings from taxation. The fund would finance transportation, energy, communications, water, and education infrastructure projects across the country. The bill is not a replacement for keeping the Highway Trust Fund solvent, which is an urgent priority before Congress. But it is a bipartisan proposal to help capitalize infrastructure projects across Colorado and throughout the U.S.