Mark R. Warner

05/16/2019 | Press release | Archived content

Warner Pushes Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Nation’s Infrastructure

WASHINGTON - Today, in the midst of Infrastructure Week 2019, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation that will strengthen our nation's infrastructure, create jobs, and generate economic stimulus.

The Reinventing Economic Partnerships And Infrastructure Redevelopment (REPAIR) Act will establish a non-partisan financing authority to work alongside existing U.S. infrastructure funding. The authority will continue to stimulate growth in our most viable economies by providing loans and loan guarantees to significant road, bridge, rail, port, water, and sewer projects. With an initial $10 billion in seed money, the agency is projected to have over $300 billion worth of total project investments and eventually become self-sustaining.

'Virginia's commuters are all too familiar with our nation's crippling infrastructure, but this problem affects more than just drivers stuck on crowded, bumpy roads. It affects urban homeowners, who are forced to rely on overwhelmed water and sewage systems; travelers, who have no other option but to frequent dilapidated airports; and our overall economy, which continues to lose tens of billions of dollars every year due to traffic congestion and blackouts on outdated grid infrastructure,' said Sen. Warner. 'As our nation continues to expand, we must enact responsible legislation that supports this growth, and I believe the REPAIR Act will do just that. By pairing a financing mechanism like this with increased public funding, we can address our infrastructure needs while also creating jobs and expanding U.S. commerce and trade.'

Currently, the U.S. spends less than 40 percent of what is needed to meet infrastructure demands. Furthermore, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that an investment of $4.6 trillion will be needed in the next ten years to bring American infrastructure to a state of good repair. According to the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report, the U.S. lags behind eight other nations in overall infrastructure, and behind 24 nations in utility infrastructure, which includes overall water and electricity 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.

'If we are to improve our nation's infrastructure, graded a D+ in ASCE's 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, we can no longer afford to defer needed investment in modernization and maintenance. Under Sen. Warner's leadership, the REPAIR Act would make a significant step toward this increased, sustained investment, establishing a new, innovative funding authority designed to attract billions of dollars in private sector investment in our nation's water, transportation, and energy sectors. Sen. Blunt's co-sponsorship demonstrates once again that infrastructure is a bipartisan issue that impacts the lives of all Americans. Through the REPAIR Act, our nation's infrastructure will receive much-needed additional funding to help narrow the $2 trillion infrastructure investment gap that currently costs every American family $3,400 a year out of their discretionary income,' said Robin A. Kemper, P.E., President, American Society of Civil Engineers.

'The reintroduction of Senator Warner's Reinventing Economic Partnerships And Infrastructure Redevelopment (REPAIR) Act reaffirms his commitment to address the challenge of rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure. Investing in the repair and improvement of America's physical infrastructure, from roads to bridges to pipelines to water systems to buildings, has consistently proven to be the most effective platform upon which sustained economic growth will occur. Such investments were the key driver that fueled our nation's industrial dominance in the 20th century, and through efforts like Senator's Warner's bill, we can achieve levels of economic growth and prosperity, while simultaneously protecting family sustaining wage and benefit standards,' said Sean McGarvey, President, North America's Building Trades Unions.

'Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Mark Warner of Virginia should be commended for their ongoing effort to strengthen our nation's investment in critical infrastructure. Their legislation, The Reinventing Economic Partnerships And Infrastructure Redevelopment Act (REPAIR) Act establishes a set of creative tools and incentives to draw private capital off the sidelines and promote effective public private partnerships. There is at least a $1.4 trillion shortfall in funding needed to adequately support infrastructure needs between now and 2025. The REPAIR Act is key to unlocking private investment necessary to support long-term economic growth and a more competitive nation,' said Jason Grumet, President, Bipartisan Policy Center.

'I applaud Senators Warner and Blunt for re-introducing the REPAIR Act - an ambitious plan to improve America's highways, bridges, ports, transit and aviation system. This bi-partisan legislation recognizes the United States' urgent need to improve our infrastructure, so that we may once again be a global competitor in today's interconnected marketplace. The REPAIR Act employs a creative financing mechanism, which leverages private investments with those from the federal, state and local sources. Fixing our state, local, and national infrastructure is a large task, and one that calls for a large-scale plan that leverages all financing options, from the public to the private sector. The REPAIR Act is a first-rate example of the type of legislation that could help tackle this issue,' said Ed Rendell, Co-Chair of Building America's Future, Former Governor of Pennsylvania.

'Bills designed to increase investments in our country's infrastructure, such as the REPAIR Act, are vital to continued American strength. We must take steps now to invest in our country's infrastructure, sustaining economic growth and creating American jobs...Together with their private-sector partners, ports will invest over $155 billion annually in marine terminal infrastructure between 2016 and 2020. For America to remain globally competitive, however, we need the federal government not only to invest directly to infrastructure projects but also to create incentives for private and local investments as well. Investments now will pay dividends in the long run by reversing the widening gap in freight movement infrastructure spending between our country and spending levels of our competitors...America can and must do better. It is for this reason that legislation such as the REPAIR Act is so important,' said Kurt J. Nagle, President and CEO, American Association of Port Authorities.

'I applaud the leadership of Senator Warner and Senator Blunt in their efforts to rebuild our nation's infrastructure by encouraging private sector investment. While increased federal funding remains most critical to expanding and improving transportation infrastructure, financing options - such as the one proposed under the REPAIR Act - are important tools that are useful in developing infrastructure projects. If paired with freight-focused federal grant programs, like INFRA and BUILD, the REPAIR Act could be an important piece of the solution needed to bolster America's economic engine - our freight network,' said Elaine Nessle, Executive Director, Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors.

'The creation of an Infrastructure Financing Authority (IFA) to supplement existing government-sponsored infrastructure funding has the advantage of further leveraging private sector investment. This authority will also offer greater opportunities for private sector investment beyond traditional transportation projects to other infrastructure needs including water and other utilities such as electric transmission and gas pipelines…The independent nature of the proposed authority will also will stimulate responsible investment that is good for the U.S. taxpayer by prioritizing projects with strong public benefits and clear financing plans,' said Jane F. Garvey, North America Chairman of Meridiam Infrastructure, Former Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

'We must fix and improve our existing infrastructure first to ensure economic development for years to come and provide access to jobs and opportunity. By prioritizing maintenance and providing local communities with every available resource to support necessary investments, we can help our cities, towns, and suburbs stay competitive. The Infrastructure Financing Authority created by the REPAIR Act would provide another valuable tool to support thoughtful policy and critical investments communities need to make repairs and to build a modern network,' said Beth Osborne, Director, Transportation for America.

Joining Sen. Warner in cosponsoring the bill are Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mike Braun (R-IN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

More information on the REPAIR Act is available here, and a list of endorsers can be found here. For the full text of this legislation, click here.

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