By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA
For the second time in as many weeks, House Ways & Means (W&M) Committee members Feb. 6 discussed how to pay for investments in infrastructure, this time focused on freight movement. The W&M’s Subcommittee on Trade heard from labor, ports, airports, and trucking officials who discussed the intersection of commerce and infrastructure.
Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) urged the panelists and lawmakers to consider a broad array of tools to invest in infrastructure across all modes. In particular, he stressed support for the National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act, H.R. 2723, legislation sponsored by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), which would create a dedicated fund for freight-related infrastructure improvements. The bill would invest up to $100 billion over 10 years focused on the freight network. It is supported by ARTBA.
Panelists expressed support for various measures to grow revenue—from raising the federal motor fuels tax to increases in the cap on airport user fees in the form of Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs)—because the cost to the economy of congestion and inefficiencies within trade sectors outweighs the cost of making much-needed infrastructure improvements.
Blumenauer cautioned that a solution, like a gas tax increase, may be more of a long-term fix and in the meantime, solutions like H.R. 2723, customs and border fees, or increases to PFCs should be pursued.