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Congressional Research Service: National Infrastructure Bank: Overview and Current Legislation

Authors: William J. Mallett, Steven Maguire, and Kevin R. Kosar
December 14, 2011

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This report examines three bills to establish a national infrastructure bank and the possible implications of such a bank.

Several bills to establish a national infrastructure bank have been introduced in the 112th Congress. This report examines three such bills, the Building and Upgrading Infrastructure for Long-Term Development Act (S. 652), the American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2011 (S. 936), and the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2011 (H.R. 402). These proposals share three main goals:

• increasing total investment in infrastructure by encouraging new investment from
nonfederal sources;

• improving project selection by insulating decisions from political influence; and

• encouraging new investment with relatively little effect on the federal budget through a mostly self-sustaining entity.

The federal government already uses a wide range of direct expenditures, grants, loans, loan guarantees, and tax preferences to expand infrastructure investment. A national infrastructure bank would be another way to provide federal credit assistance, such as direct loans and loan guarantees, to sponsors of infrastructure projects. To a certain extent, a new institution may be duplicative with existing federal programs in this area, and Congress may wish to consider the extent to which an infrastructure bank should supplant or complement existing federal infrastructure efforts.

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