Late Tuesday (December 1, 2015), the Senate and House of Representatives came to an understanding on a five-year, $305 billion transportation measure, Reuters reports. The FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) should be on the floor of the Senate and House by tomorrow, where it’s expected to garner support from members of both parties.
In order to fund other transportation plans, the proposal includes a one-time, $19 billion transfer from the surplus Federal Reserve fund. The measure also will limit the amount the Fed can hold in excess to $10 million—anything more than that amount would automatically move to the Treasury’s general fund. Other funding sources include lowering the current 6% dividend big national banks receive from the Fed to a percentage connected with returns on 10-year treasuries, which currently are at about 2%. Additional background on highway infrastructure funding is available here.
In addition to authorizing general highway spending for six years, the bill aims to improve the nation’s infrastructure by providing fiscal certainty to state and local governments, streamlining the environmental review and permitting processes, and improving truck and bus safety. However, the measure doesn’t quite meet the six-year, $480 billion proposal put forth by the Obama administration earlier in 2015.
Reps. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR) were the House lead negotiators; while Sens. James M. Inhofe (R-OK), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) were the lead Senate representatives. These lawmakers said that the bill would provide “long-term certainty for states and local governments,” as well as “improvements to the programs that sustain our roads, bridges and passenger rail system.”