Vermont Senator introduces $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill

Updated Jan 31, 2015
Independent Vermont Senator Bernie SandersIndependent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

A U.S. senator from Vermont has filed a bill that would designate $1 trillion over the next five years to transportation and infrastructure spending, according to a report from The Hill.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders calls his bill the “Rebuild America Act,” noting in an op-ed piece also published by The Hill that, “a $1 trillion investment to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure would not just rebuild our country but create and maintain 13 million good-paying jobs that our economy desperately needs.”

In the column, Sanders paints an desperate depiction of American infrastructure, saying it “is collapsing.” However, he does not say how such a large bill will be funded, instead focusing on the fact that figuring out where to get the money doesn’t seem to be a priority in Washington in the first place.

“We now spend just 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure, less than at any point in the last 20 years. Europe spends twice that amount, and China spends close to four times our rate,” Sanders wrote. “We are falling further and further behind, and the longer we wait, the more it will cost us later. Deteriorating infrastructure does not magically get better by ignoring it.”

Should the Republican-run Congress even go along with such a large increase in infrastructure spending, there is still much disagreement over how to fund it. Construction and transportation industry groups have voiced support for increasing the gas tax, while the Obama administration and prominent Republicans have suggested reforms to corporate tax codes could be the solution.

The gas tax raises more than $30 billion each year and is the primary source of infrastructure funding for the federal government. The tax hasn’t been increased since 1993 and the funding shortfall for the foreseeable future in about $16 billion.

“Every day, [Americans] drive on roads with unforgiving potholes, over bridges that are in disrepair and wait in traffic jams on congested roads,” Sanders wrote. “They see railroads and subways that arrive late and that are overcrowded. They see airports bursting at the seams. They worry that a local levee could fail in a storm.”

He continued, saying one-third of U.S. roads are in “poor or mediocre condition,” with more than 40 percent of urban highways congested and one of every nine bridges structurally deficient with 25 percent of all bridges functionally obsolete. He also called out the “largely antiquated” U.S. rail network and crowded U.S. airports that “still rely on 1960s radar technology.”