Shant Boyajian Shares Insights on INVEST in America Act
Shant Boyajian was quoted extensively in the Inframation article, “Aspects of New Surface Transportation Bill Could Win Bipartisan Support.”
The Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act ("INVEST in America Act"), introduced by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on June 3rd, authorizes nearly $500 billion of spending on surface transportation projects over a five-year period. The Senate version of the bill, the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, authorizes $287 billion of spending over five years. The bill was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by a 21-0 vote in July 2019.
Commenting on the possibility of the Bill’s passage, Shant said that Congress could find “common ground in two areas that both bills address - climate change and increased funding for rural transportation projects.”
He added that the “House’s bill replaces the current Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program - known as the INFRA grant program - with a new Projects of National and Regional Significance program. The new program would expand the eligibilities of the INFRA program to include transit and passenger rail and more than doubles the size of this important grant program. While many Republicans prefer direct federal investment through the core formula programs instead of grant programs, the INFRA program has been wildly popular since its enactment in the FAST Act.”
If overall federal investment levels greatly increase, he stated, “It would make sense to increase funding for this grant program and I would expect this proposal to receive Republican support.”
Shant also found it noteworthy that the INVEST In America Act “increases funding for projects in FY2021 but does not make any policy changes to FAST Act programs until FY2022. That measure could be incorporated in a fourth stimulus bill that the Senate is weighing in response to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, if they decide to address infrastructure.”
He closed the interview by saying, “Bipartisanship will be the key ingredient to ultimately passing reauthorization legislation. There are different majorities in two chambers. Both sides will have to make compromises.”
Shant was the lead author of the 2015 FAST Act when he was senior counsel to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.