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Friday May 22, 2015

Washington News

Washington Hotline

Highway Trust Fund Bill Slowly Rolling Forward

On May 31 the current bill to provide funding for the Highway Trust Fund will expire. If Congress does not act, hundreds of summer highway construction projects will be placed on hold.

At a May 11 conference in Washington, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx predicted another short term extension for highway project funding. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) was on a panel with Foxx. She agreed that the solution would be short term and noted, “There is not going to be a long-term fix – the five or six years that we have been able to pass, pull together on a bipartisan basis. This will be the 33rd short-term extension over the last six years.”

At the same conference, Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) also predicted a short-term funding solution. Delaney praised the Grow America Act which would fund the Highway Trust Fund for six years. It uses an 8.75% tax on the $2 trillion of overseas profits of U.S. corporations to create an American Infrastructure Fund.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is attempting to find $11 billion in tax revenue to fund the projects from June 1 to December 31, 2015. He is regularly meeting with House Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) to discuss acceptable offsets. Both chairmen have indicated they anticipate creating a solution by the end of May.

Editor’s Note: The shortfall in highway funding is in part due to Washington action in mandating more fuel-efficient cars. The federal gas tax receipts assumed a larger number of gallons used each year. With the more fuel-efficient cars, Americans are not using the anticipated amount of gas and the result is less tax revenue for the Highway Trust Fund. Because increases in the gas tax are very unpopular, Washington has simply moved forward with 33 short-term patches.

Published May 15, 2015

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