Even as many lawmakers expressed dismay, Congress last week reauthorized transportation programs for the next two months without making needed fixes to the Highway Trust Fund.
The trust fund has enough money to last through July. But after that, without further legislation, Washington will be unable to reimburse states for transportation projects.
Despite lopsided votes in the House (387-35) and Senate (passed by a voice vote), many lawmakers said they were disappointed that they had failed to permanently shore up the trust fund and thus clear the way for a multi-year authorization of transportation programs.
The House vote marked the 33rd short-term fix for transportation funding that chamber had passed since 2008.
“Here we are again, another short-term patch,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “It’s a heck of a way to run a nation. It is embarrassing.”
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said: “It’s time we end this costly uncertainty with the Highway Trust Fund.” They called for “a consensus-based, bipartisan, six-year surface transportation bill that will provide states and local communities the funding and the certainty they need . . .”