WASHINGTON Feb 9 The United States Senate
could pass a bill to found a national infrastructure bank in
the next 12 months, said Democrat Chris Dodd, who chairs the
Banking Committee, on Monday.
"President Obama co-sponsored our infrastructure bank
legislation as a senator and endorsed the idea during his
campaign. So, I'm hopeful to see action on the bill this
year," Dodd said.
For more than a year bills to create a bank that would fund
roads and capital works projects with a combination of seed
money from the federal government and bond financing have sat
in both houses of the U.S. Congress.
The idea has recently fallen to the shadows as Americans
turn their attention to boosting infrastructure in the economic
recovery bill the Senate will likely vote on on Tuesday. But
the Connecticut Senator said the bank, which would have an
independent board to decide which projects receive backing, was
still a viable idea.
"A national infrastructure bank would ensure that important
projects receive funding -- creating a new funding stream and
competitive process for wastewater systems or any other project
that offers the greatest economic and environmental benefits
that no community can afford to rebuild on its own," he said in
a speech at North Carolina State University.
"The Infrastructure Bank would encourage regional
approaches to infrastructure needs, encouraging private sector
participation to fund big projects outside of formulas," he
also said according to a copy of the speech.
Many have raised the issue that various infrastructure
endeavors, such highways, already have their own federal
agencies and funding sources. They have asked if those agencies
would have to compete with a bank.
When it comes to the Highway Trust Fund, which is backed by
taxes on gasoline and which has recently been drawn down, the
bank will not provide any competition, Dodd said. Instead, he
said, a "floating gas tax that sets a floor for the price of
gas" could provide a steady stream of dollars for repairing
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert)