DRIVE Act: Wasteful spending and another government bailout

Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s fellow Marc Scribner offered the following comments on the DRIVE Act, the Senate highway bill that just emerged out of committee markup.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by the Senate highway bill, the DRIVE Act, that was passed out of committee today, which shows the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) is stuck in the past. As EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe has said of himself in the past, “I’ve always said I’m a big spender in two areas—national defense and infrastructure.” This mindset has clearly led to a fundamental disinterest in reassessing the slowly imploding federal-aid highway programs.

“It would be bad enough to expect the Senate Finance Committee to find the necessary budget gimmicks to offset the DRIVE Act’s wasteful spending and yet another bailout of the Highway Trust Fund. But the DRIVE Act goes farther as it fails to empower states to toll their own Interstate segments for reconstruction purposes and reduces the innovative and pro-market TIFIA credit assistance program’s budget authority by nearly one-third from FY 2014.

“House and Senate leadership, along with the White House, would be wise to reject any iteration of this irresponsible piece of legislation, and work to develop a long-term reauthorization that restores the users-pay/users-benefit principle, harnesses new innovative technologies and practices, and empowers states to make better transportation infrastructure investment decisions.”