Apr 29 2021
WASHINGTON — Prior to Infrastructure Week 2021, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance and Banking Committees, alongside Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Chris Coons (D-DE) today reintroduced the Reinventing Economic Partnerships and Infrastructure Redevelopment (REPAIR) Actto help close America’s widening infrastructure gap, create jobs, and ensure America’s global competitiveness in the 21st century by establishing an Infrastructure Financing Authority to provide loans and loan guarantees, complement existing funding mechanisms and expand overall infrastructure investment. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH).
Currently, the U.S. faces a $2.59 trillion shortfall in infrastructure needs, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Furthermore, to close the nearly $2.6 trillion 10-year investment gap, meet future needs, and restore the U.S. global competitive advantage, ASCE estimates that all levels of government and the private sector must increase investment to 3.5% from 2.5% of U.S. gross domestic product by 2025. According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report, the U.S. lags behind twelve other nations in overall infrastructure. For years, the federal government has struggled to come up with the funding necessary to close the widening infrastructure gap, which is why the REPAIR Act will leverage public dollars to incentivize private sector infrastructure investment.
The REPAIR Act would establish a fiscally responsible Infrastructure Financing Authority (IFA) to complement existing infrastructure funding through loans and loan guarantees. Designed to become self-sustaining over time, this IFA would be independent of any federal agency and instead, would be run by an appointed Chief Executive Officer and a Board of Directors, while still being subjected to strong congressional and federal oversight. The IFA would only fund economically viable projects of at least $50 million, or $10 million for projects in rural areas, for which five percent of IFA funding would be reserved. In order to be considered for funding, proposed projects would undergo rigorous analysis, and must show clear public benefit, meet economic, technical and environmental standards, and be backed by a dedicated revenue stream.
“The time has come to put sizeable, long-term, tangible capital investment into our nation's infrastructure. From bumpy roads to worn down bridges to dilapidated airports to overwhelmed water and sewage systems, commuters, homeowners, travelers, and our overall economy have become too familiar with our nation's crumbling infrastructure, which costs us tens of billions of dollars every year," said Sen. Warner. “We must enact bold legislation to modernize our infrastructure, and the REPAIR Act will need to be a part of that equation.”
“Missouri is a national transportation hub and location is our top competitive advantage,” said Sen. Blunt. “To keep that advantage, we need to invest in improving the safety and reliability of our roads, bridges, rail networks, and waterways. I’m proud to join Senator Warner in introducing this bipartisan bill to help states and localities leverage public-private partnerships to advance their infrastructure priorities.”
“We need a twenty-first-century infrastructure network that meets the demands of our twenty-first-century economy—from safe bridges and modern highways, to improved rail, port, and water infrastructure,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “The REPAIR Act will take advantage of public-private partnerships to improve our infrastructure, all while creating jobs and supporting communities.”
“Fixing our crumbling roads and bridges is not only a matter of convenience for those who use them, it also impacts our economy and our competitive advantage on the global stage,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation would boost investment in infrastructure and get the private sector involved to help create jobs and improve Texans’ quality of life.”
“This bipartisan bill will help fix our roads, bridges, and highways—long neglected and decades behind other nations. Through a mix of private and public funding in a dedicated infrastructure bank, we will be able to modernize and prepare for the future to create millions of high quality jobs and a more equitable, sustainable economy,” said Sen. Blumenthal.
“Now more than ever we need to identify a long-term funding solution for our infrastructure needs,” said Sen. Graham. “The REPAIR Act is a common sense proposal that would bring together private sector investments and public sector resources to finance important infrastructure projects. Our proposal would ensure taxpayer dollars are used responsibly, and help create jobs.”
“We've agreed in Congress for a long time that we need to invest in American infrastructure. Now we are finally on the cusp of meaningful action,” said Sen. Coons. “It would be a lost opportunity not to harness capital from the private sector to help finance this historic investment in modernizing our roads, bridges, rail, tunnels, broadband, electrical, and water systems. That is why I am glad to stand with colleagues from both sides of the aisle today in reintroducing the REPAIR Act. This bipartisan bill would create a dedicated infrastructure financing mechanism to leverage public dollars and incentivize private sector investment to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.”
“San Diego knows that functioning infrastructure goes hand in hand with economic growth and competitiveness. To build back better, America’s crumbling roads, bridges, railways, transmission lines, water, and broadband systems need significant, long-term investments that go beyond just maintenance,” said Rep. Peters. “By establishing an infrastructure bank that connects federal funds with private capital to cover the cost of critical projects, the REPAIR Act will bring our infrastructure systems up to speed while keeping fiscal sustainability in mind.”
“If we are going to truly rebuild our nation’s infrastructure it’s going to take a broad mix of both private and public dollars,” Rep. Gonzalez said. “The REPAIR Act will equip the United States with a new financing tool to better leverage private dollars. This will allow for further investments into local infrastructure needs that will help create jobs and strengthen our communities.”
Full text of the bill is available here.