The Obama administration today sent Congress its proposal for a multi-year transportation bill, which it’s calling the GROW AMERICA Act. The bill, based on the budget proposal President Obama released two months ago, relies on corporate tax reform to raise $87 billion to fill the hole in the Highway Trust Fund. The four-year bill would cost $302 billion.
It’s the first time Obama has sent Congress a transportation proposal. He received some criticism for not doing so before the current transportation authorization, MAP-21, passed.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the bill’s submission to Congress in a phone call today with reporters. Foxx recently wrapped up an eight-state bus tour, in which he talked to people about the infrastructure needs where they live.
“Failing to act before the Highway Trust Fund runs out is unacceptable — and unaffordable,” said Foxx. ”This proposal offers the kind of job creation and certainty that the American people want and deserve.”
The bill includes $206 billion for the highway system and road safety over its four year duration, and transit gets $72 billion. That brings the current 80-20 ration for highways and transit to something closer to 75-25. Rail — a new addition to the transportation bill – gets $19 billion, including nearly $5 billion annually for high-speed rail. The proposal also sets aside $9 billion for discretionary, competitive funding, including $5 billion for the popular TIGER grant project.
Foxx noted that he has been “pleased” that members of Congress have already been working in a bipartisan fashion to craft a bill and that he looks forward to “supporting and building on the good work that’s already been done.”
Reporters on the call were most interested in the increased authority the administration seeks for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in investigating and penalizing automakers who fail to act quickly on vehicle recalls. The administration seeks to increase civil penalty limits nearly tenfold, to $300 million, so that they would be “more than a rounding error” in the company’s bottom lines.