Before departing Washington, DC for the traditional August Congressional recess, Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-AL-3) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) announced that they are forming the Congressional Caucus on Public-Private Partnerships, or the Congressional P3 Caucus. In the press release announcing the caucus, Rogers says that “he hopes the group will help raise awareness of infrastructure issues and examine public-private partnerships across the country.” Congressional caucuses are formed by Members seeking to work collectively on issues, usually with the goal of increasing the visibility of a specific topic or advancing a legislative agenda.
Faced with decreasing revenues from the federal gas tax, and reluctant to continue transferring billions of dollars a year in general funds into the Highway Trust Fund, policymakers are seeking creative solutions to the nation’s infrastructure needs. There is little congressional appetite to simply increase the federal gas tax to replenish the Trust Fund. Much of the discussion and legislative activity on P3s is occurring at the state level, and Rogers wants to foster a dialogue at both the Member and congressional staff level about the federal role in P3s. Rogers’ staff said they want to examine what actions the federal government has taken that work to advance P3s, and what federal barriers may still exist. They also recognize the importance of educating local elected officials and constituents about alternative financing, and the many ways in which P3s can be accomplished. While P3s are most common in the transportation sector, Rogers’ staff have said that he is interested in how federal P3 policies can be expanded into additional areas such as wastewater and social infrastructure.
Rogers and Connolly are actively seeking additional Members to join their efforts, and the caucus will likely have a kick-off event sometime in October.