The House Budget Committee April 2 approved 22 to 16 a FY 2015 budget resolution, with all committee Republicans supporting the proposal and all present Democrats opposed. The measure provides broad outlines for federal spending and fiscal policy, including a detailed discussion of the challenges facing the Highway Trust Fund that breaks significantly from past House budgets, by stating that, “Maintaining the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and the policy of the trust fund being user-fee supported is a priority.” The measure also notes, “efforts need to be made to find a long-term solution to the trust fund’s financial challenges.”
Similar to previous years, however, the House budget proposal recommends restraining federal surface transportation investment to levels that could be supported by current trust fund revenues, while acknowledging the trust fund requires $16-17 billion a year simply to maintain current highway and public transportation investment levels. According to the Congressional Budget Office, failure to provide new trust fund revenues would require the elimination of any new highway or public transportation spending in FY 2015. The budget does include a mechanism that would allow trust fund-supported spending to increase beyond what current revenues can support if additional resources are found—a provision that was not included in last year’s House budget plan.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the non-binding budget proposal this week. The Senate is not expected to consider a budget resolution this year as Senate Democratic leaders point out the two chambers reached a FY 2014 and FY 2015 statutory budget agreement late last year.