WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today supported a bipartisan bill – the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act – that would provide long-term transportation funding and reforms to address key infrastructure needs across the country.
The DRIVE Act, which passed the Senate 65 to 34 today, would allow Indiana to plan for and construct critical infrastructure projects.
“This long-term transportation bill will give our state and local governments the stability they need to improve Indiana’s infrastructure,” said Coats. “It will greatly increase and prioritize spending for bridges, the interstate system and the national highway system. The DRIVE Act will provide our state and local governments with more flexibility to efficiently stretch infrastructure dollars further. And it will accelerate project delivery by reducing red tape and duplication in the permitting process, while still protecting the environment.”
Coats proposed an amendment that would have allowed Indiana to receive the same percentage of available highway funding as Hoosiers contribute when they pay gas taxes at the pump. The Coats amendment was blocked procedurally, but the DRIVE Act would guarantee that Indiana gets back at least 95 percent of its contributions to the Highway Trust Fund, plus additional general fund money that will likely give the state a rate of return exceeding 100%.
“While I was disappointed my amendment was not adopted, it is more important to ensure that Indiana has the long-term certainty our state needs,” said Coats.
Because the House of Representatives adjourned for August recess yesterday, the DRIVE Act will not be considered by the House until the fall. With current transportation funding set to expire on July 31, today Coats voted for a three-month extension of current highway funding. This extension passed the Senate 91 to 4. The extension previously passed the House of Representatives and now heads to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.
“Indiana depends on an efficient and reliable transportation system for economic growth,” said Coats. “Today the Senate acted to ensure that vital transportation funding will continue. This three-month patch avoids disaster for our national transportation system.”
The DRIVE Act:
- Increases and prioritizes spending for bridges, the interstate system and the national highway system;
- Includes reforms intended to bring more transparency to the Highway Trust Fund and the Federal Aviation Administration;
- Provides state and local governments with more flexibility to efficiently stretch infrastructure dollars further; and,
- Accelerates project delivery by reducing red tape and duplication in the permitting process while still protecting our environment and communities.