Republicans look to give federal transportation funds to states

Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), lead sponsor of the bill, said it is time to give states the authority over their infrastructure spending.

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Fifty-five years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower worked with Congress to create the Highway Trust Fund to construct our interstate highway system, authorizing a 16-year gas tax of 3 cents per gallon in order to pay for the entire project, he said. This mission is largely accomplished, yet today the gas tax stands at 18.4 cents per gallon.

Language in the bill adds that it was the objective of the federal highway program to construct a modern freeway system that connects all states, and that this objective has been obtained.

The bill also states that the federal government has over time, usurped the role of the States by taxing motor fuels used in the States and then distributing the proceeds to the States based on the Federal Governments perceptions of what is best for the States. This, according to the bill, has led states to take actions that are not necessarily appropriate for individual States.

The legislation would ensure that the Department of Transportation maintains responsibility for design and construction of roads and facilities on public land, emergency assistance to states and national transportation research programs.