The House of Representatives approved a $10.8 billion bill on Tuesday, July 15, in an effort to keep the Highway Trust Fund operating at full steam through May 2015. The Senate is considering a similar bill.
Congress faces Aug. 1 deadline to get a “patch” in place for the fund that pays for federal and state roads, bridges and transit. The U.S. Department of Transportation says that’s when it will have to begin limiting transportation payments to states based on a shortfall of incoming revenue in the trust fund.
House and Senate versions of the “patch” bill were identical in duration and dollar value. They differed slightly in how the patch would be paid for – tax reforms related to government pensions and how much money to borrow from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., offered the House version of the bill while Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., took the lead in the Senate.
Two contentious ideas to pay for the proposals early on – a House plan that would have raided U.S. Postal Service coffers and a Senate plan that would have increased the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax on trucks – were squashed prior to committee markups.
Some lawmakers and media have referred to the patch as a bailout and have even called it unnecessary. But the Congressional Budget Office and the White House continued to urge congressional action, saying thousands of construction jobs were at stake. The White House issued a statement in support of the House plan.
A short-term extension does not address longer-term issues facing transportation or address the need for a new funding source to cover the next four to six years.
OOIDA has not taken a position on the length or dollar value of the short-term extensions as proposed by the committees. The Association does, however, continue to advocate for a multiyear highway bill to provide stability and make reforms to federal agencies.
“We obviously want to see Congress take action on a long-term bill as soon as possible and make sure they are using good policy,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley said.
Copyright © OOIDA