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S. 1702 (113th): Transportation Empowerment Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

11/14/2013--Introduced. Transportation Empowerment Act - Declares the purposes of the Act, including returning maximum discretionary authority and fiscal responsibility to the states for all elements of the national surface transportation systems (excluding the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways).

Prescribes a limitation on funding of transportation programs and projects carried out under this Act.

Authorizes appropriations out of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) (other than the Mass Transit Account) for FY2015-FY2019 for specified core programs under the federal-aid highway program, including: (1) metropolitan transportation planning, (2) emergency relief for highways and roads, (3) the federal lands transportation program, and (4) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) administrative expenses.

Authorizes a state to transfer and use excess federal-aid highway funds for any surface transportation project (including mass transit and rail).

Limits federal assistance to states for highway bridge replacement and rehabilitation to bridges on the federal-aid highway system. Repeals the authorization of federal assistance to states for historic bridges.

Repeals the transportation alternatives program.

Declares that, beginning with FY2014, a highway construction or improvement project shall not be considered a federal project: (1) unless and until a state expends federal funds for the construction portion of such project, (2) solely by reason of the state expenditure of federal funds before the construction phase of the project (including for any environmental document or design work), or (3) upon state reimbursement to the federal government of the federal costs of such projects.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make amounts in the HTF available for expenditure for core highway programs through FY2020.

Requires the Secretary of Treasury to transfer from the HTF amounts equivalent to motorboat and aviation fuel taxes collected before October 1, 2022, to: (1) the Land and Water Conservation Fund, (2) the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, and (3) the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.

Requires the Secretary to pay from the HTF into the general fund of the Treasury amounts equivalent to the floor stocks refunds made before July 1, 2023.

Prescribes a motor fuel tax rate schedule for financing of core highway programs.

Terminates, on September 30, 2014, the authority of the Secretary to make certain transfers to the Mass Transit Account. Directs the Secretary, on October 1, 2014, to transfer all amounts in the Mass Transit Account to the Highway Account.

Authorizes appropriations out of the HTF (other than the Mass Transit Account) for FY2015-FY2019 for the highway research and development program.

Directs the Secretary to allocate to the states for surface transportation projects (including mass transit and rail) any excess highway tax receipts appropriated to the HTF in FY2016-FY2019.

Reduces the excise taxes imposed on: (1) gasoline from 18.3 cents to 3.7 cents, (2) diesel fuel or kerosene from 24.3 cents to 5.0 cents, and (3) diesel-water fuel emulsion from 19.7 cents to 4.1 cents. Requires credits or refunds of certain floor stocks taxes on liquids imposed before October 1, 2019.

Declares that this Act shall become effective only if the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) certifies that it is deficit neutral.