House Republicans' bill would redirect Pakistan aid money to US infrastructure

House Republicans' bill would redirect Pakistan aid money to US infrastructure
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Two House Republicans on Monday introduced a bill that would redirect Pakistani aid funds to infrastructure projects in the U.S.

The legislation, introduced by Reps. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieThe real winner of the 2018 midterms: individual liberty How Republicans who voted against ObamaCare repeal fared in midterms Trump deals with Saudis may be worth much less than 0 billion MORE (R-Ky.) and Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordSouth Carolina New Members 2019 Mark Sanford: 'I hope' Trump is a 'temporary blip on the radar screen' Dem Joe Cunningham turns Sanford open seat blue in South Carolina MORE (R-S.C.), would reallocate United States Agency for International Development and State Department funding to the struggling Highway Trust Fund.

“When the American people support other nations, our generosity shouldn’t be used to reward terrorists with U.S. taxpayer dollars,” Sanford said in a statement.

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“Couple this with the fact that the Highway Trust Fund will be $111 billion short by 2026, and it simply makes financial sense to repurpose these funds for our infrastructure.”

Industry groups have for years sounded the alarm over the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road improvements. Some groups and lawmakers have suggested an increase to the federal gas tax to keep it afloat. Money from the 18.4-cent tax goes into the fund, but that levy has not been raised since 1993, eroding its purchasing power over time.

Sanford and Massie, both members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, cited concerns over Pakistan’s relationship with terrorists in explaining their bill.

“This common-sense bill puts America first by reallocating tax dollars to our roads and bridges at home instead of funneling money overseas,” said Massie.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulClapper: Killing of Saudi journalist displays that Trump will ‘accept the words of autocrats’ Trump’s relationship with Saudi crown prince under pressure Rand Paul: 'Evidence is overwhelming' that Saudi crown prince was involved in Khashoggi murder MORE (R-Ky.) introduced a companion bill in the upper chamber last month and referenced similar worries about terrorism.

“Let’s bring that money home and use it to help rebuild our infrastructure instead of giving it to a nation that persecutes Christians and imprisons people such as the doctor that helped us get Osama bin Laden,” Paul said in January of his legislation.

Paul at the time estimated the funds would amount to approximately $2 billion.

The lawmakers’ push comes as the Trump administration prepares an infrastructure package meant to overhaul U.S. roads, bridges, airports and other public works. 

The White House planned to unveil its infrastructure package in January, but that release has been delayed. A White House official last week blamed the government shutdown for the postponement, adding that the proposal would come “in the next few weeks.”

The president during his annual State of the Union address last week called on Congress to craft an infrastructure plan of "at least" $1.5 trillion.