The new law, paid for with gas tax revenue and a package of $70 billion in offsets from other areas of the federal budget, calls for spending of approximately $205 billion on highways and $48 billion on transit projects over the next five years.
The measure is the first long-term national transportation spending package in 10 years. Prior to this bill, recent years have kept the budget going with shorter-term “temporary” spending bills.
Ending the pattern of short stopgap funding fixes has been a priority this year for both the Obama administration and Republican leaders in Congress.
The new law, dubbed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the FAST Act, formally reauthorizes the collection of the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax that is typically used to pay for transportation projects, and also includes $70 billion in “pay-fors” to close a $16 billion deficit in annual transportation funding that has developed as U.S. cars have become more fuel-efficient.
Referring to the new spending bill, the President said: “I look forward to signing this bill right away, so that we can put Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank that helps our companies compete around the world, and give local and state governments and employers the certainty they need to invest and hire for the long term.”