House Panel Unveils Multi-Year Infrastructure Bill

WASHINGTON — The House Transportation Committee Monday unveiled a 775-page, multi-year transportation infrastructure bill that is to be voted on Wednesday by its transit and highways subcommittee.

The bill, sponsored by committee chairman James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., would establish a bond-related metropolitan mobility program for metro areas with more than 500,000 residents, including the establishment of metropolitan infrastructure banks. Oberstar has said that $1 billion of federal funds would be provided for the metro mobility program.

The bill also would create an office of public benefit to oversee tolling and public-private partnerships, and establish a national strategic plan that would encompass certain projects submitted by states.

Under the bill, metropolitan planning organizations would be able to create, capitalize, and administer “federally assisted banks” that could make loans or provide other lines of credit to public and private entities for transportation projects. The banks could provide credit enhancements, serve as capital reserves and provide security for bond or other debt-instrument financing, subsidize interest rates, insure or guarantee letters of credit and credit instruments against credit risk or loss, finance capital lease agreements for transit projects, and provide other methods of leveraging funds approved by the secretary of the Department of Transportation.

Under the terms of the bill, an MPO would be designated as having more than 100,000 people, increased from the current population requisite of 50,000 people.

The bill also would merge the more than 100 funding categories into four major programs.

The bill does not include a tax title or specify funding levels and revenue sources.

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