House GOP Unveils 5-year, $260B Transportation Bill

Measure would delegate more power to states to set priorities for projects.

A five-year, $260 billion surface transportation plan was introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders. The measure would delegate more power to states to set priorities for projects, consolidate or eliminate about 70 federal highway programs and encourage public-private partnerships for new construction. The proposal could be the "most important legislation to put Americans back to work," said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the committee's chairman.

If approved, the measure would be the first long-term authorization bill passed in Congress since 2005. The current highway and transit authorization law, called SAFETEA-LU, has been extended eight times since it originally expired Sept. 30, 2009. The current extension will expire March 31.

The Senate is also considering a two-year authorization bill.

House members, at a news conference Tuesday, did not offer details on where the money for their proposal would come from. But Mica has previously proposed driving new revenue from domestic energy production into the Highway Trust Fund, which funds construction of highway and transit programs.

The Highway Trust Fund will be unable to meet obligations starting next year, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday.

From 2008 to 2010, the Highway Trust Fund received almost $35 billion in transfers from the general fund to keep it from being exhausted, the report states.

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Source: Federal Times