Congress approves short-term fix for highways

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 8/1/2014

The U.S. House and Senate have both agreed to a $10.8 billion patch to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through May 2015. The Senate attempted to amend the plan this week but eventually accepted the House’s terms ahead of the summer recess. Congress is now in recess until Sept. 8.

The funding measure, HR 5021, originated in the House of Representatives and is paid for without tax increases. It now moves to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

Congress was faced with an Aug. 1 deadline to pass a short-term fix. That’s when the U.S. Department of Transportation said it would begin limiting payments to states for transportation projects due to cash shortfalls in the fund.

Senators offered amendments to shorten the temporary fix so that Congress can work on what is really needed for transportation – a long-term highway bill that lasts five or six years.

The current highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, MAP-21, will technically expire Sept. 30. The short-term patch stretches that out to May 31, 2015.

OOIDA advocates for a long-term highway bill as well as reforms for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that regulates trucking.

A measure that truckers have been following closely, which would suspend restrictions on the voluntary 34-hour restart provision in the hours-of-service rules until a comprehensive study is completed, is not part of the Highway Trust Fund patch.

That amendment is still in play.

The “Collins amendment” which OOIDA supports belongs with a separate bill known as the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. The Senate has not decided yet when it will vote on final THUD language. The Collins amendment is named after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

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