Highway spending played a key role in the passage of a $15 billion jobs bill Thursday, March 4, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill also calls for a $20 billion transfer from general funds to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through Dec. 31.
The House passed the bill, HR2847, by a vote of 217-201. But House lawmakers amended the bill to include a funding mechanism, which puts the ball back in the Senate’s court for consideration of the changes.
Within the House’s proposed funding mechanism is the restoration of $8.7 billion to the Highway Trust Fund in the form of lost interest.
The House and Senate have traded several versions of HR2847 back and forth with changes each time. Both chambers must agree on a final version before the bill can be sent to President Obama’s desk for signature into law.
All recent versions of the bill have included $2 billion in Build America Bonds to pay for large-scale transportation projects; provisions for small businesses to expense equipment as a tax write-off; and calls for a payroll tax holiday to help employers retain workers.
During Thursday’s debate, a number of House lawmakers stressed the need for Congress to pass a long-term surface transportation authorization bill that would last five or six years.
– By David Tanner, associate editor