U.S. House Democrats propose $ 547 billion surface transportation plan

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) speaks during an infrastructure press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, May 12, 2021. REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein

On Friday, a group of key U.S. House Democrats were due to introduce legislation authorizing $ 547 billion in additional spending over five years on surface transportation, a plan that would serve primarily to repair existing U.S. roads and bridges and increase funding for rail and public transit.

The Speaker of the Chamber of Transport and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio, said in a statement that the proposal seizes “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring our transport planning out of the 1950s and move towards our energy future. clean”.

The plan presented by DeFazio and other Democrats on the top committee would authorize $ 343 billion for roads, bridges and security, including $ 4 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The panel will hold a hearing on June 9 on the proposal to consider the changes.

The roughly 1,000-page proposal comes as President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans are in talks about a massive increase in infrastructure spending in the United States. Biden wants $ 1 trillion in new spending over eight years compared to “base” spending on highways, bridges and transit, while Republicans have called for about $ 250 billion in new spending.

The Senate of the Environment and Public Works unanimously approved a bipartisan bill last week to spend $ 303.5 billion on highways over five years, a 34% increase from the last bill. Highway Reauthorization Act passed in 2015. Congress faces a September 30 deadline to reauthorize surface transportation programs.

DeFazio’s plan also calls for $ 109 billion for mass transit and $ 95 billion for rail, including tripling funding for U.S. railroad Amtrak to $ 32 billion. This would force Amtrak to set aside at least 2.5% of all annual government funding “to improve the passenger experience on long-haul routes.”

It would authorize $ 4.1 billion in subsidies to buy electric buses, create a $ 500 million subsidy program to reduce congestion in major metropolitan areas and $ 1 billion to address the shortage of parking for vehicles. utilities and allow heavier electric vehicles on US roads and mandate additional safety features in new school buses.

A big question in all plans remains how to pay them, as gasoline tax revenues have not kept up with repair needs. Biden wants corporate tax hikes and other higher levies on the wealthy to pay for repairs and has also suggested charges on driving commercial trucks.

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