Law360 Quotes Susan Lent on Funding Options for Trump Infrastructure Plan

Law360, in its article “Alternative Ways To Pay For Trump’s Infrastructure Plan,” has quoted Akin Gump partner Susan Lent, head of the firm’s infrastructure and transportation practice, discussing the likelihood of Congress enacting President Trump’s $200 billion infrastructure investment proposal this year. The article examines several different funding ideas that Congress might consider.

One possibility, according to the article, would be to impose a new user fee on wholesale purchases of motor fuel. With the current long-term surface transportation funding authorization bill—the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST, Act of 2015—not expiring until 2020, however, Congress might see less of an urgency to take action, Lent noted.

“Because the FAST Act has two more years left in it and this is a Congress that’s motivated when it’s a must-pass situation, to me there’s a big question of whether there would be momentum this year to be able to enact any new user fee or gas tax increase,” she said.

Another possibility suggested in the article for funding the plan would be with mileage-based or vehicles-miles-traveled fees. Some states and localities area already testing such policies, but Lent sees a downside.

“The idea is you would track your mileage and you’d pay a fee based on the miles you drive ... the rationale is it’s a true user fee where the users of the system should pay the cost to maintain the system,” she pointed out. “But where you can see members of Congress that represent rural areas being concerned is that their residents drive farther to get to work or to get to the store.”