Another Deadline, Another Short-Term Transportation Measure

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After reauthorizing transportation programs for three weeks late last month, lawmakers are once again poised to pass another short-term extension to give themselves more time to negotiate an agreement on a multi-year bill.

Lawmakers say they do not have enough time to wrap up conference negotiations to reconcile House and Senate legislation before transportation programs expire this Friday. So yesterday the House passed a two-week extension of them, with Senate approval expected before Friday.

The legislation House and Senate conferees have been working on would guarantee funding for transportation programs for three years by transferring $47 billion in general revenue to the Highway Trust Fund, to be covered with various offsets unrelated to transportation. This would temporarily close a gap between trust fund spending and stagnant revenue from motor fuel taxes, which have not been raised in over two decades.

If lawmakers finally reach an agreement on the 3-year bill, it would be the longest authorization of transportation programs passed by Congress since 2005. Unfortunately, though, the legislation would miss another opportunity for lawmakers to find an adequate and sustainable revenue source to support the nation’s transportation system.

External links:
House Passes Short-Term Highway Patch (The Hill)
CBO Projections for Highway Trust Fund
How to Fix the Highway Trust Fund (Concord)

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