Highway fund OK through next summer, DOT says

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 9/9/2015

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Highway Trust Fund is in a position to remain solvent through the summer of 2016, not the end of this year as previously projected. That could lead to delays as Congress considers a multiyear surface transportation bill.

The DOT’s online ticker at transportation.gov shows that the $8 billion transfer of general funds into the Highway Trust Fund at the end of July – part of a temporary extension agreed to by both the House and Senate – will buy more time than initially projected.

These transfers will help maintain Highway Trust Fund solvency through the third quarter of fiscal year 2016, according to a statement released on the DOT website.

“However, it is important to note that many programs funded through the Highway Trust Fund are only authorized through Oct. 29, 2015,” the statement continued. “Although sufficient balances exist in the Highway Trust Fund to maintain solvency through the third quarter of (fiscal year) 2016, an Oct. 29 lapse in authorization prevents new obligations in Highway and Transit programs and impacts reimbursements to States.”

In late July, actually before the House and Senate agreed to a short-term extension, the Senate voted and passed a six-year surface transportation bill dubbed the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act, or DRIVE Act.

The House has yet to take up the DRIVE Act or offer its own multiyear bill for transportation.

Speculation in news reports and by various lawmakers is that the extended life of the Highway Trust Fund could further delay votes on a multiyear bill.

Others remain hopeful that the House will pass a bill, and it will reach the president’s desk before the 2016 election year politics make it a casualty.

The Senate version of the DRIVE Act contains some provisions that concern trucking stakeholders such as a push to increase insurance requirements for motor carriers and one that would give states more power to toll interstate highways.

An extended timetable could provide opportunity to truckers to contact their lawmakers on these important issues through OOIDA’s action website, FightingForTruckers.com.

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