Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), along with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) just announced that they’re introducing the BUILD Act today, which would create a national infrastructure bank.
They’re proposing to start the bank with $10 billion of seed money that would leverage hundreds of billions of dollars, according to their projections. “Private capital is sitting on the sidelines,” Kerry said. These senators, and many more who are expected to co-sponsor the bill, want to see those private funds put to work.
The BUILD Act will not include any grants and will only fund revenue-generating projects that can repay a loan. The White House had proposed a $30 billion infrastructure bank that includes grants, but Kerry says that given the current climate, they preferred to stick only with projects that will generate revenue, and they’ve pared it down to a size they think lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can accept.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has indicated she’d rather see the TIFIA loan program be strengthened, rather than create a new entity that some fear will invoke echoes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (a charge Kerry vigorously denies). Kerry says Boxer is on board with this proposal, as is the White House, the Senate Budget Committee Chair, and members of the House.
Kerry’s proposal would also make the bank an independent entity, whereas the administration proposal located the bank inside of the Department of Transportation. Some advocates have spoken out in favor of an independent infrastructure bank, rather than one “buried” inside the DOT bureaucracy.
Stay tuned for more details.