The measure, the Invest in America Act, is meant to replace the law authorizing spending on highways, transit and other transportation programs, which expires at the end of September.
Backers said the bill that emerged from the committee represents a departure from previous surface transportation reauthorization legislation. It puts more importance on maintaining failing roads and bridges than on building new highway capacity, and has as a central goal of reducing transportation-related pollution, the nation’s top source of greenhouse gases causing climate change.
“The time is now to fix our crumbling infrastructure, cut carbon pollution from the transportation sector, and create millions of good-paying jobs in urban, suburban and rural communities,” said Transportation Committee Chairman Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.).
Committee Republicans objected to the strong emphasis on environmental concerns, which some dismissed as radical, and said their role in crafting what they dubbed the Democrats’ “My Way or the Highway” bill was minimized.
“We’re now considering a $500 billion bill no one knows how to pay for,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said.
“This bill also focuses heavily on meeting the goals of the Green New Deal rather than carrying out the core functions of our infrastructure,” Graves said, adding that it “includes new grant programs and mandates that are hammered on to our existing programs,” siphoning funds from core missions including fixing roads and bridges.
Officials said the bill is expected be considered by the House, along with other infrastructure measures, around the end of the month. The transportation bill would need to be reconciled with efforts in the GOP-controlled Senate.
The Trump administration also said in February it was drafting a $810 billion surface transportation funding package, and it remains unclear whether future coronavirus relief efforts originating from the White House or Capitol Hill may include infrastructure spending.