Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Create $50 Billion Infrastructure Bank

AASHTO Journal, 24 January 2014

Sens. Michael Bennett (D-CO) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) last week introduced a measure that would help state transportation departments and other transportation organizations finance infrastructure projects while creating jobs and growing the economy.

Bennett and Blunt, along with several of their colleagues, on Friday introduced the bipartisan Partnership to Build America Act. The measure would create a $50 billion infrastructure bank that would potentially support hundreds of billions of dollars more in loan guarantees and financing authority for state DOTs, local governments, nonprofits, private entities, and public private partnerships. Eligible projects would include transportation, water, energy, communications, and education infrastructure projects.

The infrastructure bank would be funded by encouraging U.S. companies to “repatriate” overseas corporate earnings. A 2012 Wall Street Journal analysis of 60 large U.S. corporations found that together they held $166 billion in earnings offshore in 2012. U.S. tax law typically allows companies to pay no taxes on profits earned in overseas operations, so long as that money is not brought back to the U.S. Under the new Senate proposal by Bennet and Blunt, U.S. companies would be able to bring overseas profits back to the U.S. if they used a portion of those profits to buy long-term low interest bonds that would fund the infrastructure bank.

The measure mirrors a similar measure introduced in the House by Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), which has also received bipartisan support through the co-sponsorship of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans.

“Our parents and grandparents helped build this country from the ground up, and in the process grew our economy into one of America’s greatest assets. Unfortunately, Washington has failed to fulfill its promise to maintain our infrastructure—from roads and bridges to our energy grid and public schools,” Bennett said in a statement. “This bill will help us improve and expand the infrastructure we need to compete in the 21st century.”

“Washington needs to pass policies to help jump-start private sector job creation. American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and workers are greatly reliant on our nation’s infrastructure to move goods and services as quickly as possible,” Blunt said. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill, which will help communities in Missouri and across America improve infrastructure and compete in a global economy.”

Additional information on the Partnership to Build America Act is available here.

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