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Patching the Pothole


HighwayBillJuly 16, 2014 – This is akin to patching potholes rather than replacing a section of highway. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 365 to 55 on July 15 to transfer from the General Fund $10.8 billion into the Highway Trust Fund, extending current highway and transit policy and funding through May 31, 2015. The 10-month patch would be paid for with yet another combination of changes to pension rules, an extension of customs fees and a $1 billion transfer from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank trust fund. NSSGA sent a letter to all members of the House prior to the floor vote urging support for the bill while also reiterating that Congress must immediately turn its attention to addressing the long-term viability of the Highway Trust Fund. The focus of attention is now squarely on the Senate, where the Finance Committee approved a $10.8 billion patch of its own July 10 that would use offsets similar to the House version but includes some tax compliance measures that are drawing fire from the House GOP. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., must decide how forcefully they will push for their chamber’s version while the clock ticks toward HTF insolvency. Even if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., decides to take up the House bill as is, Boxer said she will continue to push for an amendment that will force Congress to address a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill before the end of the year.