Committees Offer Short-Term Solution For Highway Trust Fund

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Two powerful committees in Congress have signed off on separate but similar extensions that would prop up the Highway Trust Fund with $10.8 billion through May 2015.

The House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., and the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., reported their bills to the floors of their respective chambers on Thursday, July 10.

The proposals are similar, calling for tax reforms and transfers rather than tax increases to bridge the gap. Debates were centered on the length of a short-term extension.

Two contentious ideas to pay for the proposals – a House plan that would have raided U.S. Postal Service coffers and a Senate plan that would have increased the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax on trucks – were squashed prior to the committee hearings.

As the lawmakers prepared for the markup hearings, the Congressional Budget Office and U.S. Department of Transportation continued to monitor the Highway Trust Fund, saying that federal payouts to states would have to be cut 28 percent starting Aug. 1 unless an agreement is reached.

The short-term patch for the trust fund (some are calling it a bailout while others call it a temporary extension) would prop up the fund through May 2015 if it receives full congressional approval.

An extension or bailout does not address longer-term issues facing transportation or address the need for a new funding source to cover the next four- to six years.

OOIDA has not taken a position on the length or dollar value of the short-term extensions as proposed by the committees. The Association does, however, continue to advocate for a multiyear highway bill to provide stability and make reforms to federal agencies.

“We obviously want to see Congress take action on a long-term bill as soon as possible and make sure they are using good policy,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley said.

Source: OOIDA