Washington, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee; Barbara Boxer (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate EPW Committee; David Vitter (R-La.), chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the EPW Committee, introduced a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill titled the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. The legislation is scheduled for a committee business meeting on Wednesday, June 24.
“I am proud of the bipartisan work that has culminated in a six-year surface transportation reauthorization,” said Inhofe. “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. The DRIVE Act will provide states and local communities with the certainty they deserve to plan and construct infrastructure projects efficiently. This bipartisan bill also contains the hallmark accomplishment of a new freight program to prioritize federal spending on the facilities that will most directly benefit our economy, in addition to prioritizing federal dollars towards bridge safety and the interstate system. The DRIVE Act will help set the tone for America’s economic future by putting our nation back on the map as the best place to do business. We look forward to working with our committee in leading this bill out of markup and to the Senate floor for consideration.”
“The clock is ticking, and action in the EPW Committee is a major first step — the other committees also need to act,” Boxer said.
“Roads and infrastructure are literally the foundation of our everyday lives. I’m certainly proud to say that we’ve come up with a workable, passable bipartisan bill that will make the necessary updates that our nation’s roads and bridges desperately need,” said Vitter. “The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act) will reduce traffic congestion, which will allow folks to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families, and improve the flow of commerce. This bill is a win-win for everyday Americans and our economy.”
“One of the most important things we do as members of Congress is to help provide Americans with a transportation system that is worthy of this country,” said Sen. Carper. “I’m proud to stand with Sens. Inhofe, Boxer and Vitter today and introduce a strong, bipartisan bill that makes the improvement of our roads, highways, bridges and transit systems a priority for the next six years. Our work, however, is not finished. In order to make the DRIVE Act a reality, we must provide full funding so that city, state and local governments have the certainty they need to make the investments we’ve outlined in this bill. I am steadfast in my dedication to working with my colleagues in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to find the bipartisan funding compromise Americans expect and deserve."
Highlights of the legislation include:
· Long-term funding certainty for state and local governments to support multi-year transportation project investments;
· Increased funding for existing core transportation formula programs to provide states and local governments with a strong federal partner;
· Creation of a new multi-billion dollar per year freight program to help states deliver projects that promote the safe, efficient, and reliable transportation of consumer goods and products that is on top of the existing formula programs;
· Targeted funds for major projects of high importance to a community, a region, or the nation;
· Greater efficiency in the project delivery process through improved collaboration and reduced duplication;
· Increased funding priority on the Interstate System, the National Highway System, and bridges at risk of funding shortfalls;
· Greater transparency on the use of federal funds to show taxpayers where their infrastructure dollars are being spent and reinforce public trust; and
· Support for innovative financing tools that allow state and local governments to leverage federal funds for transportation projects and maximize investments, particularly in rural areas where such tools were previously unavailable.