The tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing this week on the need to launch a national infrastructure improvement program and potential funding sources.
The Joint Committee on Taxation issued an “Overview Of Selected Internal Revenue Code Provisions Relating To The Financing Of Public Infrastructure.”
- Bipartisan agreement on the need to pursue infrastructure improvements was expressed during the hearing, “Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure and the Need for Immediate Action,” but there was no clear consensus on how to pay for what could be a $1.5 trillion package. (New York Times, Feb. 12)
- In conjunction with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation issued an “Overview Of Selected Internal Revenue Code Provisions Relating To The Financing Of Public Infrastructure.” The report addresses the following funding options:
- Highway Trust Fund
- Airport and Airway Trust Fund Excise Tax
- Inland Waterways Trust Fund Excise Tax
- Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Excise Tax
- Tax-Exempt Financing for Public Infrastructure; and
- Public-Private Partnerships
The hearing covered the looming shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund and the viability of potential revenues sources – such as an increase in the gas tax and the imposition of a Vehicle Miles-Traveled fee– to help finance increased infrastructure spending.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) said President Trump’s interest in “a massive infrastructure package,” shows Congress has “a real opportunity to work together and do something big here.” (Chairman Neal statement, March 6)commercial real estate market.
- Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) noted how “meaningful, sustained investments in our nation’s infrastructure” would create more jobs, encourage a more competitive business climate and revitalize local communities. Neal also said President Trump’s interest in “a massive infrastructure package,” shows Congress has “a real opportunity to work together and do something big here.” (Chairman Neal statement, March 6)
- President Trump stated during his January State of the Union address, "I know that Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill. And I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future. This is not an option, this is a necessity," Trump said. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 8)
- The need to repair aging roads, bridges, transit, airports and harbors throughout the country was also the focus last month at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on "The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investing in Our Nation's Infrastructure Cannot Wait." (Chairman Peter DeFazio’s (D-OR) Opening Remarks, Feb. 7)
- The Roundtable’s 2019 Policy Agenda notes that every $1 billion spent on infrastructure creates an estimated 13,000 jobs. “The quality of infrastructure systems—including transportation, utilities, and telecommunications—has been cited as the most important factor influencing real estate decisions around the world. The productivity of our cities, towns and workforce depend on systems that safely and reliably transport people, supply power, and share information across the built environment,” according to the report. (The Roundtable's 2019 Policy Agenda Infrastructure section.)
The Roundtable sent a comment letter to President Trump in Jan. 2018 offering specific suggestions on how innovative financing sources may be used to help pay for infrastructure improvements – and how restructuring a lengthy permitting process and cutting unnecessary red tape will help control project costs and delays.