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Congress Set to Act on Highway Trust Fund Patch


Highway BillAccording to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), the House Ways and Means Committee marked up its version of the Highway Trust Fund patch (H.R. 5021) the morning of July 10 with the Senate Finance Committee moving forward in the afternoon on its bill. Senators reached a bipartisan agreement late July 9 allowing that panel to proceed with markup.

Both the House and Senate bills will transfer approximately $10.8 billion to the HTF immediately upon enactment – $8.8 billion to the Highway Account and $2.0 billion to the Mass Transit Account – and use many of the same pay-fors. Thus, both bills provide enough money to support baseline highway and mass transit spending through, roughly, May 2015.

The House bill, however, explicitly extends the expenditure authority of the HTF through June 1, 2015, while the Senate Finance bill does not address the expiration date. By allowing the HTF to retain its legal authority to pay bills indefinitely, Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are allowing Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to retain more authority over the duration issue, since EPW has the lead on extending spending authority for the Federal Highway Administration programs and people.

That said, the fact the Senate bill does not address the timing issue and includes the same amount of money as the House bill indicates that there may be a willingness on the part of Senate Finance Committee leaders to go along with a May 31, 2015, extension of HTF funding authority, according to NSSGA.