Highway bailout up for vote this week

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Monday, July 28, 2014

It’s a big week for the Highway Trust Fund in advance of the August recess on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate is faced with a choice as it considers a short-term extension – either approve a version already passed in the House or go its own route.

The House version, HR5021, calls for a $10.8 billion extension of current transportation policy and funding that would last through May 2015.

Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be in recess from Aug. 1 through Sept. 8.

The date of Aug. 1 is significant because that’s when the U.S. Department of Transportation says it will begin rationing federal transportation payments to states. FHWA anticipates a cash shortfall in the Highway Account of the trust fund in August. That’s when funding will fall below the level needed to fully fund the state payouts. States will still receive federal money, just not 100 percent of what they would normally get.

The current highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, is set to expire Sept. 30. And while the short-term extension considered by Congress would buy a few more months, it does not address the longer-term needs of the Highway Trust Fund.

Addressing the longer-term needs would require a multiyear surface transportation bill somewhere down the line.

See related stories:
House approves 10-month Highway Trust Fund extension
Committees offer short-term patch for Highway Trust Fund
Former DOT secretaries urge Congress to act on transportation

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