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GOP rules proposal could reduce highway funding

nssgaNSSGA is sounding the alarm bells! The House Republican Conference will hold an organizational meeting at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, January 4, 2011, to consider amendments to the Rules of the House of Representatives for the 112th Congress.  Among the changes proposed, highway funding, with some exceptions, will now be treated as other general spending and therefore be subject to any member attempt to reduce the spending level. Under current rules, any member of the House can raise a point of order against legislation reducing federal highway funding levels from those set in the controlling multi-year reauthorization bill.

This rule change in essence repeals the guaranteed funding requirement for annual federal highway investment and returns the process to the pre-TEA-21 era.  Prior to the enactment of TEA-21, funding levels were set lower than the incoming HTF revenue stream so as to offset spending in other parts of the federal budget.  As this operated in the past, the HTF accrued large balances while infrastructure needs went unmet.

NSSGA has signed on to a coalition letter organized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials opposing this rule change.  If you have the opportunity between now and Jan. 4, please call your Republican House members and ask them to oppose this rule change. You can reach them and their staff at their Capitol Hill offices by calling NSSGA's Washington Action Hotline at (866) 255-3207 to be connected directly to the U.S. Capitol Switchboard.

Tell them to drop the proposed House Rules change on highway funding because:
  • This change would disrupt the entire concept of the federal gas tax as a user fee by allowing funding to be withheld and large balances built up in the HTF while the nation’s infrastructure needs go unmet.
  • Unemployment in the American transportation construction sector is double the national average, exceeding 18 percent.  This rule change would only add more uncertainty to funding levels and thus prevent large-scale job creating projects from moving forward.
  • Instead of a rule change, what Congress really needs to do is work to enact the overdue multi-year surface transportation program reauthorization.