Senate Bill Proposes Infrastructure Financing Authority

November 15, 2013

Ten U.S. senators introduced bipartisan legislation to establish a new infrastructure financing authority to help states and localities better leverage private funds to build and maintain the nation’s infrastructure.

The Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act, introduced Nov. 14, 2013, helps address the nation’s investment shortfall in maintaining and improving its transportation network, water and wastewater systems and energy infrastructure. The legislation would provide an additional financing tool for states and localities, which can create new jobs and increase the country's economic competitiveness.

Sponsors of the BRIDGE Act include: Mark Kirk (R–Ill.), Mark Warner (D–Va.), Roy Blunt (R–Mo.), Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.), Kristen Gillibrand (D–N.Y.), Dean Helller (R–Nev.), Chris Coons (D–Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.), Roger Wicker (R–Miss.) and Claire McCaskill (D–Mo.).

The BRIDGE Act will establish an independent, nonpartisan financing authority to complement existing U.S. infrastructure funding. The authority would provide loans and loan guarantees to help states and localities fund the most economically viable road, bridge, rail, port, water, sewer and other significant infrastructure projects.

The authority would receive initial seed funding of up to $10 billion, which could incentivize private sector investment and make possible up to $300 billion in total project investment. The authority is structured in a way to make it self-sustaining over time.

Projects would have to be at least $50 million in size, and be of national or regional significance to qualify. Five percent of the authority’s overall funding would be dedicated to projects in rural regions, and rural projects would be required to be $10 million in size.

The authority would finance no more than 49 percent of the total costs of the project in order to avoid crowding out private capital. Loans and loan guarantees would be subject to modest additional fees, which will allow the authority to quickly become self-sustaining over time.

The authority would operate independently of existing federal agencies, led by a board of directors with seven voting members and a CEO, all of whom would be required to demonstrate proven expertise in financial management and be confirmed by a vote of the Senate.

“Infrastructure has long been an integral part of our economy. Successful transportation systems connect people and communities, and businesses large and small, and the jobs they create, rely on a strong infrastructure network to connect with their customers,” Blunt said. “This bipartisan legislation will provide a new tool to help finance infrastructure projects, create jobs, and ensure America’s global competitiveness in the 21st century.”