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…
Issue Brief posted April 22, 2013
Congress Should Reprioritize Highway Trust Fund Money to Improve Mobility
The federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) faces serious funding shortfalls in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and beyond, in large part due to funding demands from an expanding array of projects other than general purpose roads. Because transportation programs cannot be made immune to current fiscal constraints, it is crucial for Congress to reprioritize HTF spending and recommit to…
Issue Brief posted March 25, 2013
Virginia and Maryland’s Transportation Plans Fuel Tax Hikes, Not Mobility
The federal government’s ultimate goal for transportation should be to devolve the resources and decision making to the states, who know their transportation needs better than Washington does. Embracing devolution, however, does not equate to an endorsement of ill-conceived, misguided policy prescriptions. Two such examples are the plan recently passed by the Virginia…
Issue Brief posted March 13, 2013
Transportation and Infrastructure Policy: More State and Less Federal Control
Some lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee seek to justify a deep-rooted federal role in transportation and infrastructure, citing the growing number of port, waterway, road, and bridge projects needed in the states. They would exempt transportation from any federal budget belt-tightening and instead argue for increased federal spending…
Issue Brief posted January 14, 2013
Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Wasteful Farm Subsidies
Congress recently passed the so-called American Taxpayer Relief Act to avert the fiscal cliff. In classic Washington style, lawmakers managed to squeeze in several unrelated provisions, including a nine-month, partial extension of the 2008 farm bill.
A fiscally prudent farm bill would have reformed the $85.2 billion food stamps program and eliminated or at least…