Bipartisan Group Writing Their Own Infrastructure Package

May 18, 2017 writes that a bipartisan group of senators, lead by Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), are putting together their own infrastructure spending bill while Congress awaits President Trump's plans.

The senator's Bridge Act would use $10 billion worth of federal dollars to spur about $300 billion worth of total project investment by creating an independent bank to finance loans and assistance to help states fund roads, water, and other infrastructure projects.

The idea of using an infrastructure bank has long been championed by Democrats, but has drawn the ire of some Republicans, who worry the bank would be controlled by Washington politicians and bureaucrats.

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The measure from Blunt and Warner would ensure “unbiased project selection” by requiring projects to show “clear public benefit, meet economic, technical and environmental standards, and be backed by a dedicated revenue stream," lawmakers said. It also would require the selection process to be transparent and publicly accessible.

Earlier this week, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee the administration will unveil a sketch of its infrastructure proposal in late may but the presentation would not list any specific projects. Chao said a detailed legislative package could be released in the third quarter of this year.

Chao did not provide any clarity as to what projects might be funded with private money or P3s. Chao suggested on Wednesday that any money that is cut from TIGER grants could be funneled back into Trump’s infrastructure package in some new form.

“I know how popular TIGER grants are with members of Congress. … This particular issue about TIGER grants is something we are discussing,” Chao said. “The thought was that there be a more holistic approach to infrastructure, and perhaps these TIGER grants would be recast in some way in the future.”