Search Penny Hill Press

Loading...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Surface Transportation Reauthorization Legislation in the 112th Congress: Summary of Selected Major Provisions


Robert S. Kirk
Specialist in Transportation Policy

William J. Mallett
Specialist in Transportation Policy

David Randall Peterman
Analyst in Transportation Policy

John Frittelli
Specialist in Transportation Policy

Linda Luther
Analyst in Environmental Policy

Brent D. Yacobucci
Specialist in Energy and Environmental Policy


The federal government’s highway, mass transit, and surface transportation safety programs are periodically authorized in a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. The most recent reauthorization act, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU or SAFETEA; P.L. 109-59), expired at the end of FY2009. Since then, the surface transportation programs and activities have been funded under a series of extension acts.

The main reason for the failure to pass a new multi-year bill during the past two years has been the disparity between projected spending and the much lower projections of the revenue flows to the highway trust fund (HTF). Taxes on gasoline and diesel provide 90% of the revenues for the HTF, which historically has funded the entire highway program and roughly 80% of the mass transit program. The rates on these taxes, which are on a cents-per-gallon basis, have not been increased since 1993. In addition, the condition of the economy and improvements in fuel economy have held down fuel consumption and as a result are adversely affecting HTF revenues. Consequently, authorizers face a dilemma: how to pass a bill without cutting infrastructure spending, raising the gas tax, or increasing the budget deficit.

On November 9, 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee marked up and reported favorably on S. 1813, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). MAP-21 is a two-year reauthorization bill (FY2012-FY2013). To fully fund the bill, $12 billion in new revenues or offsets (to allow for General Fund transfers) is needed beyond anticipated HTF revenues. MAP-21 proposes:

  • A total Federal-Aid Highway Program authorization of $39.4 billion for FY2012 and $40.4 billion for FY2013 (reflecting rescissions), and $400 million for research and education in each fiscal year. 
  • To reduce the total number of highway programs from roughly 90 to 30. The overall Federal-Aid Highway Program would be structured around five large “core” programs, including a new National Freight Program. The existing Equity Bonus Program would be discontinued. 
  • To eliminate individual program formula factors used to allocate funds. Instead, each state’s initial amount of the bill’s authorized contract authority would be calculated based on its share of total apportionments and allocations during FY2005-FY2009. These state shares would then be used to calculate the MAP-21 apportionments among the core programs. 
  • To accelerate project delivery through innovative contracting, enhanced dispute resolution, early right-of-way acquisition, early coordination among agencies, and provisions designed to speed up the environmental review process. 
  • To increase the use of performance measures, including creation of a National Highway Performance Program.
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as other committees of jurisdiction in both the House and Senate, are also expected to mark-up bill language for surface transportation reauthorization.


Date of Report: December 14, 2011
Number of Pages: 32
Order Number: R42120
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

National Infrastructure Bank: Overview and Current Legislation

William J. Mallett
Specialist in Transportation Policy

Steven Maguire
Specialist in Public Finance

Kevin R. Kosar
Analyst in American National Government


Several bills to establish a national infrastructure bank have been introduced in the 112th Congress. This report examines three such bills, the Building and Upgrading Infrastructure for Long-Term Development Act (S. 652), the American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2011 (S. 936), and the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2011 (H.R. 402). These proposals share three main goals:

  • increasing total investment in infrastructure by encouraging new investment from nonfederal sources;
  • improving project selection by insulating decisions from political influence; and
  • encouraging new investment with relatively little effect on the federal budget through a mostly self-sustaining entity.
The federal government already uses a wide range of direct expenditures, grants, loans, loan guarantees, and tax preferences to expand infrastructure investment. A national infrastructure bank would be another way to provide federal credit assistance, such as direct loans and loan guarantees, to sponsors of infrastructure projects. To a certain extent, a new institution may be duplicative with existing federal programs in this area, and Congress may wish to consider the extent to which an infrastructure bank should supplant or complement existing federal infrastructure efforts.

It is unclear how much new nonfederal investment would be encouraged by a national infrastructure bank, beyond the additional budgetary resources Congress might choose to devote to it. The bank may be able to improve resource allocation through a rigorous project selection process, but this could have consequences that Congress might find undesirable, such as an emphasis on projects that have the potential to generate revenue through user fees and a corresponding de-emphasis on projects that generate broad public benefits that cannot easily be captured through fees or taxes.

As with other federal credit assistance programs, the loan capacity of an infrastructure bank would be large relative to the size of the appropriation. The bank is unlikely to be self-sustaining, however, if it is intended to provide financing at below-market interest rates. The extent to which the bank is placed under direct congressional and presidential oversight may also affect its ability to control project selection and achieve financial self-sufficiency.

More generally, Congress may wish to consider the extent to which greater infrastructure investment is economically beneficial. Advocates of increased investment in infrastructure typically assert that high-quality, well maintained infrastructure increases private-sector productivity and improves public health and welfare. Congress may want to weigh the benefit of the increased spending on physical infrastructure against the benefit generated by alternative types of spending.



Date of Report: December 14, 2011
Number of Pages: 31
Order Number: R42115
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.