President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans unveiled a bill Wednesday that would slash spending on highway transportation by $716 billion and give states more flexibility to make their own decisions on where to build new highways.
The measure also eliminates federal highway spending limits on fuel-efficient cars and trucks and expands federal aid to states that build high-occupancy vehicle lanes, which have become a hot button issue in the transportation debate in Washington.
The proposal is a departure from what Trump had proposed in his 2016 campaign.
Instead, it would increase funding to states to make highway improvements by $15 billion over 10 years and would increase federal funding for fuel-efficiency and fuel-economy standards in most state highways.
“The president’s plan will make America safer, more reliable, and more affordable,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.
“In a time of growing anxiety, the president’s bold approach is a reminder that we can still get things done.”
The legislation would also provide states with more flexibility in setting fuel-intensity requirements for trucks and SUVs, which can run up to 80 miles per gallon but are still a relatively new technology.
The House bill would increase the fuel-energy limits for trucks to 50.5 miles per kilowatt hour from 48.5.
The Senate bill would allow states to set up their own fuel-emissions standards for vehicles.
The bill also calls for a study of the effect of expanding fuel-per-gallon standards and says the new rule “should be used to promote fuel economy.”
The Senate proposal would also eliminate the federal fuel-cost rule, which is aimed at protecting the environment and reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
The president’s 2018 budget proposal called for eliminating the rule.
The new House bill also eliminates the $15,000 cap on highway fuel-prices and the $100,000 per person fuel-limit on trucks and vans.
The legislation also would allow state governments to make fuel-purchase agreements with private trucking companies and states to establish local programs for vehicle-related expenses.
The package includes a $1.2 trillion plan for roads and bridges that includes $2 trillion in new spending on infrastructure projects and $500 billion in new revenue for transportation projects.
The $732 billion total would be offset by $532 billion in savings over the next 10 years through a number of provisions.
The plan also calls on the government to establish a fund to assist states in meeting their transportation needs and $30 billion to provide assistance to communities in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
It would provide $5 billion for projects to repair and improve roads and bridge systems.
The spending would also include $10 billion to support community development and housing.
The President’s 2018 request also called for $10.3 billion in federal funding to support the rebuilding of the nation, including $4.5 billion to address the need for housing for veterans, according to the administration.
The Trump administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.