Build USA Act would create American Infrastructure Bank for transportation funding

Updated May 14, 2015

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) has introduced the Build USA Act, a bill aimed at creating an American Infrastructure Bank (AIB) to provide methods for funding transportation projects for states.

Fischer, who is chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, was involved in similar legislation when she was in Nebraska state legislature. That bill was titled the Build Nebraska Act, which was enacted in 2011. It put a quarter of 1 percent of state sales tax revenue toward road projects.

The Build USA Act would give states the power to determine if their transportation projects meet federal procedural requirements, such as environmental impact and design. Then states would enter “voluntary” three-year agreements with the AIB, agreements that would allow states to remit federal transportation funds not being used, apply for a loan through the AIB, or a combination of both.

Ninety percent of the remitted funds would go back to the state during the agreement period for “core” infrastructure projects, over which the state would have oversight to make sure projects meet regulations.

What’s left, 10 percent, stays in the back to be used for funding other projects and to “capitalize” the bank via interest. Loans would again only be for “core” infrastructure projects.

“My bill adheres to three important points: reduce regulatory burdens, redirect funding, and provide states with more authority to manage their highways and bridges.” Fischer said in a statement. “Nebraska has gained successful results with this model and it’s time to bring best practices from our states to the national discussion. By letting our states manage these projects, we can get America moving safely and securely for decades to come.”

The bill can be read here.