The first highway bill has emerged in the 115th Congress— a two-pronged measure introduced on Feb. 1 by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE).
The proposal calls both for temporarily depositing certain Customs and Border Patrol revenues into the Highway Trust Fund and giving states greater control over how road projects are built if they forego some federal highway funding.
The Build USA Infrastructure Act would pour the first $21.4 billion of CBP revenue collected into the Highway Trust fund every year for five years, starting after the current FAST Act highway bill runs out in 2020.
As for the windfall of flexibility aimed at states, the bill would let them enter into agreements with the Federal Highway Administration. And in return for remitting 10% of their federal-aid highway dollars, states would receive control over federal approval of the design, environmental permitting and construction aspects of federal highway projects. The remitted funds would also land in the HTF.
Fischer, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, said the Build USA Infrastructure Act is modeled after her legislative success “developing innovative, sustainable transportation funding solutions in the Nebraska Unicameral, including the Build Nebraska Act and the Federal Funds Purchase Program.” She said her state is initiating and completing projects at a faster pace because of these measures.
“Funding challenges and the burdensome federal regulatory approval process have delayed infrastructure projects across America for decades,” Fischer said in a statement.
“The Build USA Infrastructure Act is a responsible, forward-looking proposal to strengthen roads, bridges, and highways for the benefit of the American families and workers who use them every day," she added.