Congress Stalls Again on Long-Term Highway Financing

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There is a sense of deja vu as lawmakers again struggle with short-term measures for the Highway Trust Fund rather than finding a permanent solution to its chronic financial shortfalls.

In a 312-119 vote, the House last week passed an $8 billion measure that would provide funding only through December. The bill relies on unrelated revenue from business tax changes and airport security fees.

This may be an improvement over some funding gimmicks in the past, but lawmakers are still putting off structural repairs on the trust fund by cobbling together funding for just a few more months. This would be the 34th short-term measure for the trust fund in six years.

Fuel taxes have long been the fund’s designated revenue source but they have not kept up with rising construction and maintenance costs. That’s because the fuel taxes have not been indexed to inflation or otherwise raised for more than two decades.

Tuesday afternoon, Senate leaders reached agreement on a multi-year transportation bill, but it failed a preliminary vote due to objections from lawmakers saying they did not have enough time to read the legislation. Senate leaders say they will hold another preliminary vote on the bill later this week. 

Transportation funding will expire late next week.

External links:
Senate Transportation Bill Stumbles (Politico)
House Passes Transportation Patch (Associated Press)
No More Detours on Responsible Highway Funding (Concord Blog)
Congressman Ribble (R-Wis.) Uses Concord Chart on House Floor to Advocate for Long-Term Highway Trust Fund Solution
How “Queen of the Hill” Can Help Fix Our Highways (Concord Op-Ed)

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