The highway measure would be financed in part by a one-time use of Federal Reserve surplus funds and by a reduction in the 6 percent dividend that national banks receive from the Fed. . . . Banks with $10 billion or less in assets would be exempt from the cut.
The Fed’s surplus capital comes from the 12 reserve banks. The highway bill would allow for a one-time draw of $19 billion from the surplus, which totaled $29.3 billion as of Nov. 25. . . .
Banks vigorously fought the dividend cut, which was estimated to generate about $17 billion over 10 years for the highway trust fund.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), ranking member on the House Transportation Committee, retorted, “For the Federal Reserve to be saying this impinges upon their integrity, etc., etc. — you know, it’s absurd. This is a body that creates money out of nothing.”
DeFazio also said, “[I]f the Fed can bail out the banks and give them preferred interest rates, they can do something for the greater economy and for average Americans. So it was their time to help out a little bit.”