America’s aging infrastructure saw a major victory on December 4 as President Obama signed into law a  five-year, $281 billion transportation bill that increases spending to address the nation’s aging and congested highways and transit systems and puts an end to the cycle of temporary extensions and threatened shutdowns of transportation programs of the past seven years. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act also reauthorized the Export Import Bank of the United States, extending the life of the bank to 2019 – a major victory for OCBC and the international trade community. The Act increases highway funding by 15 percent and transit funding by 18 percent over the life of the bill.
Orange County Transportation Authority’s priorities were realized in the act, including the new opportunity to seek a waiver from the Department of Transportation from managed lane degradation requirements. However, some of the money to fund transportation will come from the Federal Reserve, cutting the Fed’s annual dividend payments to large commercial banks and redirecting that money to highway construction. OCBC opposed this funding mechanism however as these “Pay-Fors” have absolutely no nexus to transportation, draining money from the Fed’s Rainy Day Fund. Included in the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank of the FAST act are reforms designed to strengthen risk management and transparency. This includes the creation of a chief risk officer and chief ethics officer and would require the Inspector General to regularly audit the bank’s risk management procedures. For more information, contact Bryan Starr, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs.
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