House lawmakers: End the uncertainty for highway funding

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 2/24/2015

With a May 31 deadline approaching to extend the life of the Highway Trust Fund, a large group of U.S. representatives believes it’s time to pass a lasting highway bill and end the short-term extensions.

A bipartisan letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., contains signatures from 284 representatives led by Republicans Reid Ribble of Wisconsin and Tom Reed of New York and Democrats Dan Lipinski of Illinois and Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey.

“Very simply, we support transportation and infrastructure investment because our economy needs a national system to safely move people and deliver goods from place to place,” the letter reads. “Our constituents in the manufacturing, construction, agriculture, energy, and distribution sectors rely heavily on our network of roads and bridges to move the products that make us competitive around the globe.”

The current highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, became law in 2012 and technically expired in September 2014. Congress passed an eight-month extension that lasted through election season and into the new Congress.

The lawmakers say more short-term extensions only lead to uncertainty as states plan their transportation budgets.

“We are united in our conviction that now is the time to end the cycle of short-term extensions that kick the can down the road by doing the work needed to pass a multi-year surface transportation authorization bill,” they wrote.

“To make this happen, we support efforts to develop a long-term sustainable revenue source for our nation’s transportation network as soon as possible. Otherwise, we will not be able to enact a transportation bill that truly meets our country’s economic and infrastructure needs.”

The letter does not say exactly how a long-term transportation bill – traditionally five or six years in duration – should be paid for.

Some lawmakers and the White House have floated a plan that uses tax reforms to send more money to transportation. Others have suggested raising fuel taxes, while some have suggested public-private partnerships, tolling, or using proceeds from oil and gas drilling.

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