ROADS/BRIDGES: Senate unveils $275 billion multi-year DRIVE Act

June 24, 2015

A six-year surface transportation bill called the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act that would provide the U.S. Highway Trust Fund with up to $270 billion has been introduced.

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would spend $275 billion over the next six years on U.S. infrastructure projects, reports the Hill.

The measure, known as the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, calls for allocating nearly $43 billion per year to the federal government's highway program.

"I doubt that we'll get to six years; it's going to be pretty hard to do that," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "We've got to find the funding one way or the other, and if we can't find it for a six-year bill, then clearly we've got to reduce" the duration.

The bill would be the most extensive reauthorization since 2005, when SAFETEA-LU was passed.

However, the spending depends on lawmakers coming up with a way to pay for it.

“Our nation’s roads and highways have suffered under too many short-term extensions, which have led to higher costs, more waste, and less capability to prioritize major modernization projects to address growing demands on our interstates," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  

The federal government's transportation spending is typically funded by a combination the gas tax and transfers from other areas of the budget.

 Lawmakers face a July 31 deadline for the expiration of the current infrastructure measure but are deadlocked on how to pay for an extension.  

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