On June 15, 2020, Fred Wagner was quoted in Law360 on House Democrats’ proposal to replace the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, which expires at the end of September.
According to the article, on June 17, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will mark up a proposed five-year bill, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act, which calls for investing $494 billion in the nation's roads, railways, transit, and other surface transportation infrastructure, while also addressing climate change.
The bill also seeks to move the ball on supplementing or eventually replacing the federal gas tax — the primary revenue stream for surface transportation projects — with a user fee based on vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The legislation is also intended to establish a national pilot program that would pay for all 50 states to assess the viability of a vehicle-miles fee or tax on both passenger and commercial vehicles.
"The innovation title in the bill focused on VMT is somewhat more aggressive, and it indicates to me that this is sort of the path that's been accepted at this point, especially if the concentration of resources into electric vehicle infrastructure remains an important element [in the bill]," Wagner told Law360.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats are expecting to pass a full-fledged surface transportation bill to replace the FAST Act this year, experts say, and it's highly likely we'll see an extension of the FAST Act or some other stopgap funding measure before the year is out.
"You just don't see a lot of hope — never mind the political situation where the attention is on other issues right now and how happy would the Democrats be to deliver a victory to the president between now and Nov. 3," Wagner said. "So the most likely scenario is a temporary extension to avoid the deadlines on the trust fund and most likely an extension that gets you beyond Inauguration Day."
Click here to access the article.