President Bush was expected to sign a bill into law Friday, Sept. 12, which transfers $8 billion from the Treasury’s general fund into the Highway Trust Fund.
The short-term fix originated as House bill HR6532 and received overwhelming support from House lawmakers in July. The U.S. Senate passed a slightly amended version earlier this week. The House quickly ratified the amended bill and sent it straight to the White House.
Just days before the Senate vote, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced that the Trust Fund was going broke at a rate much faster than anticipated. She said the fund would reach a zero balance on or before Oct. 1 of this year, and not sometime in 2009 as had been predicted.
The measure ensures the Trust Fund is shored up through the next fiscal year as miles traveled and fuel consumption remain in decline.
The bailout comes in the form of an $8 billion transfer from the Treasury into transportation. Back in 1998, it was the other way around as lawmakers transferred $8 billion out of transportation and into the general Treasury for other purposes.
OOIDA and other highway users said the return of the $8 billion was necessary for a number of reasons, including keeping state transportation budgets operating.
The Federal Highway Administration released a report stating that without the fix to the Highway Trust Fund, states stood to lose an average of 34 percent of their transportation budgets supplied by the federal government.
– By David Tanner, staff writer