Maryland's newest member of the House of Representatives introduced his first bill on Wednesday, a new infrastructure funding proposal that has won bipartisan support in an otherwise divided Congress.
Rep. John Delaney, the Potomac Democrat who has represented Maryland's 6th Congressional District since January, is proposing to allow U.S. companies to repatriate a portion of their overseas cash, tax free, if those companies invest in a new bond program that would be used to pay for highways, energy projects, school buildings and other infrastructure.
Delaney estimates the proposal would create a $50 billion infrastructure fund that could be leveraged into $750 billion in job-creating projects without spending directly from government coffers. Delaney is a former financier and the only former CEO of a publicly traded company serving in Congress.
"The kinds of things that are baked into this legislation are the kinds of things I've been working on for 20 years," Delaney said.
Delaney has managed to bring aboard 26 co-sponsors, half of them Republicans. But the idea does have its critics, particularly those concerned about allowing multinational firms to bring cash back to the U.S. without paying corporate taxes. Delaney unveiled the text of the bill a day after Apple CEO Tim Cook was grilled by lawmakers on Capitol Hill for avoiding billions in taxes via offshore holding companies.
"If this seems too good to be true it's because it's not true," Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote in a letter earlier this week. For multinational firms, he said, the proposal "is merely a way to pay little more than a nickel on each dollar of profits for which they have paid little or no taxes anywhere else in the world."
The 24-page bill is complicated and is an ambitious political effort for a lawmaker who has only been in office a few months. It would require approval from committees on which he does not sit -- namely, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Delaney said he has spoken with House leaders in both parties but does not have commitments for a vote.
Delaney unseated longtime Republican congressman Roscoe G. Bartlett in last year's election in a district that was heavily redrawn by Democrats in Annapolis.