By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor, ARTBA
House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee ranking member Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) Dec. 5 said he expects the incoming Democratic-majority to pass an infrastructure bill in its first six months, and he hopes the Republican-majority Senate will act quick on the package.
DeFazio, who is expected to become the T&I Committee chairman in January, said he would continue to push the “Penny for Progress” plan he introduced in March, refining it if necessary before presenting it to the White House. DeFazio’s plan would provide $500 billion for surface transportation over 13 years, raised by issuing a new 30-year treasury bond repaid by increasing federal gasoline and diesel taxes by indexing them to inflation.
He also expects the president to be receptive to an infrastructure package, since giving President Trump a “win” benefits the general public.
“We have plenty of places to campaign against the president. Infrastructure is at the benefit of all the people in the United States of America, Democrat, Republican, Independent,” DeFazio told attendees at an infrastructure summit hosted by The Atlantic.
Public-private partnerships (P3s) were a key piece of the president’s infrastructure plan introduced earlier this year, but DeFazio said they remain only a small piece of the funding solution.
“Certain projects lend themselves to P3s, about 10 to 12 percent of our needs. The other 88 to 90 percent has to have real investment by the states and the federal government,” he said. “P3s are a tool; one tool in the tool shed.”
DeFazio’s home state of Oregon is on its third pilot vehicle miles traveled (VMT) program. He said he will also propose a national VMT plan that could help deal with the eroding gas tax revenues for the Highway Trust Fund. But DeFazio said any plan must include congestion pricing and deal with privacy concerns.
“While every millennial is walking around with an iPhone in their pocket tracking their moves, there are people in rural parts of my district that will say ‘after you get the gun out of my cold hand, then you can track my vehicle,’ ” he said.