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Barbara Boxer

Boxer/Inhofe Ammendment: Better, But Not Good Enough

A draft of the Boxer/Inhofe amendment just came over the transom from a source in DC close to the negotiations (PDF).  This is a draft from yesterday and negotiations are ongoing, so expect changes. 

Specifically,
enviros are trying to get a "green screen" put in place, so that USDOT
can pick from the priority projects presented by the state DOTs. 
Theoretically this would mean that the Obama administration would make
better decisions about how to spend the money than the states and would
redirect funding to priority transit projects.  Based on the current
language, though, the amendment still gives precedence to the states to
load up their road building projects.

Here are the highlights of the draft circulating as of yesterday:

Summary of EPW Amendment to HR 1,
the American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009
    • Theamendment Senators Boxer and Inhofe have been working on would increasehighway, transit and water (clean water and drinking water)infrastructure funding in the stimulus by up to $50 billion if otherfunding provided for in the bill is not used quickly.
    • Thisamendment would redirect up to $50 billion of funding that wouldotherwise expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2009 in addition (ifnecessary) to unobligated balances from slower-spending programsappropriated throughout the stimulus package that have not beenobligated within a full year after enactment.   
    • Amaximum of $50 billion would be redistributed by the President tostates for use on highways, transit and water projects, based on apriority list of shovel ready projects within 120 days, as determinedby states.  This list would be provided by each state and certified bythe Governor, based on priorities that are the product of ongoing stateand local planning programs.
    • Eligibility has beenexpanded far beyond highways alone.  A broad array of projects beyondhighways and bridges can be funded including transit and environmentalmitigation for example.  States and localities should give specialconsideration to projects that will bring the conditions of roads,bridges, and other transportation system elements up to standard, thatwill result in immediate employment, that will increase the energyindependence of the United States, and that will provide long-termeconomic benefits.
    • This amendment would provideadditional funding for the clean water and drinking water staterevolving funds and would maintain the 15% set-aside for greeninfrastructure included in the underlying bill.  This ensures thatstates will be able to implement green projects to reduce energyconsumption and improve water efficiency with any funding providedthrough the amendment.                     
    • Thisamendment takes money that is otherwise not going to quickly stimulatethe economy and moves it to a program that can get people workingfaster.
    • Funds are moved to highway, transit and waterinfrastructure investments under this amendment because they improveour nation’s infrastructure and can be under contract in an expeditedmanner.

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