The U.S. Senate has approved a House-sponsored bill that extends current highway funding and policy by two months – through July 31. The bill, HR2353, now goes to President Obama for signature into law.
The Senate acted by voice vote on Saturday, May 23, before leaving town for a scheduled recess. The extension avoids a May 31 deadline when all programs funded by the federal Highway Trust Fund would have expired.
HR2353 was introduced May 15 by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Congress is looking to fill an annual funding shortfall of $15 billion to fully fund a new, comprehensive highway bill that would last five or six years. Federal programs cost about $50 billion a year while fuel taxes and other user fees going into the Highway Trust Fund total about $35 billion.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has proposed the framework for a six-year transportation bill. Funding components and motor carrier safety have not yet been added.
Another consideration for long-term funding and policy is the White House’s GROW AMERICA Act, Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced GROW AMERICA on Tuesday, May 20. It would last six-years and spend $478 billion on highways, transit, rail, freight mobility and other infrastructure.
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