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Congressman Don Young Releases Consensus-Driven Framework to Revitalize and Strengthen America’s Infrastructure

Former House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman’s plan arrives following breakdown of negotiations between the White House and the Senate.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Alaska Congressman Don Young, former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, released an infrastructure framework designed to earn bipartisan support and bolster America’s infrastructure for years to come. Upon rolling out his plan, Congressman Young released the following statement:

“This week, talks between the White House and my Senate colleagues have broken down. This impasse appears not only to be over the definition and price tag of an infrastructure package, but also over how to pay for it. I understand that this is a sensitive topic, but I am prepared to have this conversation. The Congress should not move forward via the budget reconciliation process, and it is my hope that President Biden will not give up on negotiations.

As former Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, we secured a bipartisan deal and enacted a landmark surface transportation bill; I know how to get this done. This country NEEDS an infrastructure package. I want my colleagues in the House and Senate to know that infrastructure investment is an existential issue for our economy's long-term strength. Without strong infrastructure, our global competitiveness is on the line. We must not risk falling behind the rest of the world.

We cannot and should not take a near-term cycle to cycle approach to infrastructure. "Infrastructure Week" has become a punchline, and with each passing year, Americans across the country lose hope for smart, targeted investments in their communities. We need an approach that meets the needs of our modern economy, respects the authority of Congress to raise and spend tax payer dollars, and puts our core transportation programs on sustainable financial footing.

It is important to remember that Congress is not a stranger to the definition of infrastructure. This institution regularly passes and enacts bills, such as Surface Transportation Reauthorization legislation. When I was Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman, we passed the landmark SAFETEA-LU bill. In recent years, the Water Resources Development Act and the Farm Bill – infrastructure bills in many ways – have made it through Congress. This is a topic that we as a legislative body are familiar with, and should be able to forge consensus over.

All too often, Congress is presented with a false choice: that there must be one great big "infrastructure bill" that is all-encompassing or that we should for some reason do nothing at all - we cannot fall victim to this illusion. There must be a middle ground with an understanding that this bill isn't the last great gasp of bipartisanship on this subject.

I do agree that in the wake of a crisis like COVID-19, federal spending can support economic recovery and address vulnerabilities in society, such as broadband access. Still, we cannot forget that the federal government has already spent $6 trillion to address the pandemic, with hundreds of billions of those dollars still yet to be spent.

However, I do believe there is a way forward, and today I am submitting my own infrastructure framework. I call on my friends in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle to seriously consider my proposals. I'm ready to do serious work on behalf of Americans in every corner of our country.”

Topline Infrastructure Spending: $1.25 trillion broken down into the following components:

Surface Transportation Reauthorization Legislation (Roads, Bridges, Safety, Transit, and Rail) - $500 billion

  • The current authorization expires at the end of this fiscal year. Congress should negotiate and pass a bipartisan 5-year surface transportation reauthorization through regular order that provides long term solvency for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).
  • The bill should include a onetime increase to the federal motor fuel excise tax for gasoline and diesel to account for post-1993 inflation, and index it to the CPI thereafter.
    • Part of the controversy over how much to invest and where to invest in our nation’s transportation system will be alleviated by putting the HTF on a trajectory for long term solvency.
    • According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), beginning in FY 2008, and in each subsequent fiscal year to date, HTF outlays have exceeded revenues received. As a result, Congress has transferred approximately $157 billion to the HTF from the general fund of the Treasury and other sources.
  • The bill should address the issue of electric vehicles by requiring that the Department of Transportation (DOT) study and implement the phasing in of a user fee for passenger and commercial electric vehicles over a period of five years.
  • Additionally, the bill should require that DOT study and implement a plan for how gas, diesel, and alternative fuel vehicles should be transitioned away from the fuel excise tax to a user fee over a period of no more than 10 years.
  • The bill should also include project financing along with delivery and permitting reforms to ensure that additional federal investments are not mired in bureaucracy and litigation.
  • Addressing the solvency of the HTF will give users and states long-term certainty to finance projects and plan investments.

Supplemental Appropriations for Infrastructure Investments (Airports, Ports & Waterways, Water Infrastructure, Electrical Generation & Grid Modernization, Broadband, and  Congressionally Directed Project Spending) - $750 billion

  • Both the Republican Roadmap and the American Jobs Plan have not met a middle ground on the amount of new federal spending and how to pay for it. My framework seeks to find this middle ground.
  • The bill should include an increase in the corporate tax rate, excluding small and family owned businesses, to offset some of the cost of this additional spending. The rate increase would be limited to no more than a 4% increase to a rate of 25%.
    • Small and family owned businesses will be exempted from this increase.
    • Congress should recognize that there is wisdom in the “user pays user benefits” principle. Corporations benefit from and are users of America’s infrastructure. The benefits of a modernized national transportation system over the long term will outweigh the costs of a rate increase.
  • Congress should allocate a portion of the $750 billion for Congressionally Directed Spending on projects in their states and home districts.
    • Members of Congress are closest to their constituencies and understand their needs better than the federal government agencies that currently award federal infrastructure monies through existing formulas or competitive grant programs.
    • The return of Community Project Funding in the FY22 Appropriations Process and Member Designated Projects for the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill have drawn significant interest from Members and when paired with strong disclosure and ethics requirements these are a valuable and way to demonstrate the value of federal investment in Member’s districts.  

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