February 12, 2004

Talent, Wyden Secure $15 Billion Transportation Infrastructure Bonding Package in Highway Bill

Senators' proposed Build America Corporation also established for future,larger bonding efforts

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) U.S. Senators Jim Talent (R-Mo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tonight secured an additional $15 billion for America's transportation infrastructure needs, with the inclusion of a Federal bonding packing in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFE-TEA) of 2004, passed by the Senate tonight. The Senators also won passage of an amendment creating the Build America Corporation, laying the foundation for their larger Build America Bonds program to serve future infrastructure needs. "When we started this debate we knew we faced some significant challenges, but we felt the idea of bonding was too important not to push," said Talent. "I am grateful to my partner in this effort, Sen. Wyden, who believes as I do that we must do more for the nation's transportation infrastructure and resist passing this debt to future generations. We can and must do more, but this $15 billion package is a good start, and if we can send it to the President's desk, we will begin paying off the debt arising from past inaction, we can create jobs now and we can save lives. I'm also very pleased we established the Build America Corporation, which is an important first step to achieving our goal of making up for the transportation infrastructure deficit." "This $15 billion bonding package is a first step toward a new era where America's infrastructure is strong and safe, where hard-working folks can get family-wage jobs, and where our children don't bear the financial burden of Washington's inattention to transportation needs," said Wyden. "I'll keep working alongside Sen. Talent to do more transportation bonding through the Build America Corporation this year and to increase the Federal government's commitment to this fresh approach that can breathe new life into our economy." Talent and Wyden's amendment enacts $15 billion in private activity bonds to build roads and bridges through public-private partnerships. The tax-exempt bonds are commonly used by states and localities to finance a wide variety of public infrastructure needs. Talent and Wyden's measure would allow $15 billion to be used in this way for roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. Talent and Wyden said they will continue advocating on behalf of their $56 billion Build America Bonds legislation as the highway bill moves through the Congress. The establishment of the Build America Corporation has laid the foundation for future bonding under that initiative. The House of Representatives must now pass highway legislation to be reconciled with the Senate bill before these measures become law.