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Introduced in House (07/17/1996)

Transportation Empowerment Act - Amends the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 to authorize appropriations out of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for the interstate maintenance program, the bridge program, the Federal lands highways program, public lands highways, and parkways and park roads through FY 2001. Repeals all funding for the surface transportation program, the congestion mitigation and air quality improvement program, and Federal Highway Administration highway safety (including research and development) programs.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to: (1) extend until October 1, 2001, the availability of HTF funds for authorized expenditures; (2) set a core programs financing rate for gasoline, special motor fuels, and diesel fuel; (3) establish in HTF an Infrastructure Special Assistance Fund; and (4) provide for the return of excess tax receipts to States for transportation purposes. Terminates transfers to the HTF's Mass Transit Account on and after October 1, 1997.

(Sec. 6) Grants congressional consent to States to enter into interstate compacts to: (1) promote the continuity, quality, and safety of the Interstate System; (2) develop programs to promote and fund safety initiatives and establish safety standards; (3) conduct long-term planning for transportation infrastructure in, and develop transportation infrastructure design and construction standards to be used by, participating States; and (4) establish transportation infrastructure banks.

Sets forth provisions regarding financing and establishment of infrastructure banks.

(Sec. 7) Requires the head of each executive agency to: (1) assist State and local governments in efforts to privatize the transportation infrastructure assets of the State and local governments; and (2) approve requests from State and local governments to privatize transportation infrastructure assets and waive or modify any grant condition, subject to specified requirements.

Sets forth provisions regarding criteria for approval of requests, lack of obligation to repay Federal grant funds, use of proceeds from the privatization of a transportation infrastructure asset, and cost recovery.

(Sec. 8) Amends the IRC to reduce taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel, and special fuels funding HTF.

(Sec. 9) Directs the Secretary to report to the Congress describing technical and conforming amendments and other laws that are appropriate in light of this Act.