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Congress Passes Yet Another Transportation Extension

On July 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an $8 billion short-term patch (H.R. 3038) to authorize the surface transportation programs through Dec. 18, 2015.

House Republican leaders claim this five-month extension, which passed by a vote of 312-119, is needed to buy the Ways and Means Committee time to fund a long-term reauthorization with revenue from an overhaul of U.S. international tax laws. Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, have ruled out a fuel tax increase, so revenues for highway funding would come from tax code changes aimed at improving collections and reporting of income.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have laid the groundwork for a long-term surface transportation reauthorization as early as next week. While the details of their plan are still developing, Republicans in the Senate would prefer to hold off on tax overhauls until after the 2016 presidential election.

“With the two chambers differing on strategy to fund highways past July 31, it’s impossible to say what will happen,” said Pam Whitted, National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs. “NSSGA supports a six-year highway reauthorization, and we need it now.”

Since 2009, Congress has passed 34 short-term bills to fund transportation programs. Whitted said that NSSGA members can easily advocate for a six-year transportation bill by sending a letter to Congress with NSSGA’s easy online tool, or using the Hill Hotline, 866-255-3207, to speak directly to Senators’ offices.