Issue Brief posted May 2, 2014
Next Highway Bill Should End the Transportation Alternatives Program
Congress is preoccupied with how to pay for the federal highway program, due for reauthorization this year, because the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) that pays for it is projected to run short of cash this summer. Culling the program of its myriad local activities and those that have no relation to improving or maintaining the interstate system of highways and bridges should…
Issue Brief posted November 26, 2013
Necessary Reforms in the Water Resources Development Act Conference Bill
Congressional leaders intend to produce a final Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill this year, and House and Senate conferees have begun formally meeting to discuss reconciling their respective bills. Neither chamber passed a true reform WRDA bill, though the House lawmakers adopted the “reform” moniker in the H.R. 3080 title, the Water Resources Reform and…
Issue Brief posted November 15, 2013
Empowering the States by Turning over the Federal Highway Program
Senator Mike Lee (R–UT) and Representative Tom Graves (R–GA) have introduced companion pieces of legislation, the Transportation Empowerment Act (S. 1702 and H.R. 3486), that would incrementally lower the federal gas tax and the size of the federal highway program over several years. In turn, states would be empowered to assume this taxing authority and use their highway…
Issue Brief posted October 2, 2013
Government Shutdown and the Future of Transportation Funding
Though the federal government has partially shut down, over 8,000 employees at the Department of Transportation (DOT) will continue working, because the Highway Trust Fund (HTF)—funded by federal gas tax revenues—is their source of funding. Additionally, 25,000 employees at DOT have been deemed “essential” and will escape furlough.
October 1 also marks the 20th…
Issue Brief posted September 17, 2013
House Water Resources Bill: Shortcomings Threaten to Overshadow Reforms
Representative Bill Shuster (R–PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has introduced H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, this year’s version of the Water Resource and Development Act (WRDA).
The bill contains provisions aimed at eliminating bureaucratic red tape, reducing the project backlog of the U.S. Army…
Special Report posted August 20, 2013
Federal Spending by the Numbers, 2013: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points
In 2013, federal spending approached $3.5 trillion and the deficit dropped to “only” $642 billion. Some are using this small improvement in the nation’s fiscal situation to avoid further budget tightening. But as the figures and graphics in this report show, this is the wrong conclusion to draw. Following four years of trillion-dollar deficits, the national…
Backgrounder posted August 15, 2013
House Water Resources Development Act: Ditch Senate Bill Blunders, Reform the Army Corps
For the first time since 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) will soon propose a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Traditionally, WRDA bills authorize the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to study and construct water infrastructure projects as part of its Civil Works…
Issue Brief posted July 17, 2013
House Can Save $2.3 Billion More on the Commerce, Justice, and Science Bill
House appropriators are considering the fiscal year (FY) 2014 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill in full committee this week. The bill would allocate $47.4 billion for commerce, justice, science, and related agencies—only $350 million (1 percent) less than the FY 2013 post-sequestration level. House appropriators can do better than that.
Issue Brief posted July 1, 2013
How to Cut $30 Billion More from the THUD Bill
House appropriators recently approved the fiscal year (FY) 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) bill, setting the spending level at $44.1 billion—a $4.4 billion reduction from the FY 2013 post-sequestration level.
Senate appropriators have blown through the sequestration spending caps and approved their more costly, $54 billion…
Issue Brief posted May 20, 2013
Eight Questions for Transportation Secretary Nominee Anthony Foxx
If confirmed as the next Secretary of Transportation, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx will have opportunities to break with the business-as-usual transportation policy that revolves around Washington and special-interest politics. It is important to the confirmation process to understand Foxx’s position on existing programs and to what extent he agrees with the…
Issue Brief posted May 3, 2013
Seven Costly Sins of the Water Resources Development Act of 2013
The Senate will soon consider S. 601, the Water Resources and Development Act of 2013 (WRDA). This bill would authorize federal spending on an array of water resource projects, including for ports, harbors, inland waterways, beaches, and wetlands, most of which are run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
S. 601 does contain small positive reforms, such as increasing…