On Friday President Obama signed legislation to extend surface transportation programs for an additional 90 days. Earlier last week, the House passed the extension on a 266-158 vote and the Senate passed the bill by voice vote.
The previous authorization bill was enacted in 2005 and expired in 2009. Since then, Congress has been unable to agree on a new bill and has funded the programs using several extensions, with the last one scheduled to expire last Saturday.
The new extension will provide funding through June 30 while Congress decides how to proceed on a new authorization bill.
The Senate has passed a bill that authorizes about $109 billion over two years, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a five-year, $260 billion bill. A vote on the House bill has not been scheduled due to opposition from some Republicans concerned about the cost and Democrats concerned about funding cuts and provisions such as a proposal to use oil drilling revenues as an offset.
The Concord Coalition has said that spending from the trust fund should be limited to the revenues collected, and policymakers should end the practice of funding new spending with deficit-financed transfers from the general fund of the Treasury.
Policymakers should agree on realistic spending levels that reflect a bipartisan consensus of actual needs. When revenues in the trust fund fall short of these levels, any additional spending should be paid for with credible offsets that are sustainable over the long term.