Senate bill aims to cede more control of transportation funding to states

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) recently introduced a bill on Thursday that would give states and localities far more control over their infrastructure spending by phasing out the federal gas tax.

The bill, S.1541, titled the Transportation Empowerment Act. The legislation is supported by U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who plans to introduce a companion bill in the House soon.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and David Vitter (R-LA) are co-sponsoring the Senate version.

Lee said the federal government’s Highway Trust Fund is broke, and that another year of Band-Aid funding is not going to fix it.

“The Interstate Highway System was completed decades ago, drivers are buying less gas and the federal government has wasted far too much money on nonhighway projects,” Lee said. “It is just an outdated system that is long overdue for reform.”

DeSantis said American communities face a variety of transportation needs and that it makes little sense to have Washington serve as a bureaucratic middleman for basic projects.

“I am proud to join with Lee and offer modern reforms to our nation’s transportation policy through the Transportation Empowerment Act,” DeSantis said. “Giving states the flexibility to tackle their own infrastructure needs will lower costs and improve response to the problems unique to each community.”

Lee said the Senate bill would update today’s broken infrastructure funding system by slowly cutting the federal gas tax, which would give states the opportunity to better identify which projects need funding and how to fund them.

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