The Building and Upgrading Infrastructure for Long-Term Development Act would establish an American Infrastructure Financing Authority, an infrastructure bank, to complement existing infrastructure funding. This institution, which would provide loans and loan guarantees, would be both fiscally responsible and robust enough to address America's needs.
"Experts say we will need to invest $250 billion for each of the next fifty years just to meet our nation's surface transportation needs, and it will cost more than $2 trillion to bring our country's existing infrastructure to an acceptable level," said Kerry in the introduction of the BUILD Act.
To put the issue in perspective, Kerry also cited global infrastructure spending habits. Currently, Europe spends about 5 percent of its GDP on infrastructure and China 9 percent. The U.S. spends only 2 percent.
The bill promises to leverage up $600 billion in private investments to repair, modernize, and expand our ailing infrastructure system with just $10 billion of Federal seed money. Although government owned, AIFA would operate independently of any federal agency and is designed to be self-sufficient after the first few years of operation.
According to the bill, AIFA will help fund transportation, water and energy infrastructure projects. In general, eligible projects must be $100 million in size or larger, although rural projects as small as $25 million will also be eligible. Low-cost loans and loan guarantees will help make these projects attractive to profit-seeking private sector investment. To avoid crowding out that investment, AIFA will finance no more than 50 percent of any given project.
The bank is supported by business and labor. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka both spoke positively about the bill at the press conference introducing it, saying the bill will create jobs while increasing our global competitiveness.
"When you've got a Massachusetts Democrat, a Texas Republican, the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO preaching from the same hymnal, you'll find a sweet spot that can translate into a major legislative step forward," said Kerry.