To allow Democrats and Republicans additional time to develop a bipartisan plan to preserve federal highway and transit investment for the remainder of 2014, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced today his committee would delay action on legislation to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) until after the Senate returns from its week-long recess for the July 4th holiday.
Finance Committee members met this morning to allow senators to make statements on the need for action in both the short- and long-term. Senators from both parties expressed support for a long-term HTF revenue package that does not require accounting gimmicks. Committee Ranking Republic Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) also reiterated his support for continuing the user-fee model to meet future highway and transit investments. Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) also emphasized that maintaining current levels of surface transportation investment is insufficient and urged that any multi-year bill deliver needed investment increases.
Wyden also introduced a modified version of the proposal he unveiled earlier this week that attempts to respond to Republican concerns. The new proposal removes a proposed increase in the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, includes a $750 million transfer to the HTF from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund and lowers the overall level of revenue generated for the HTF by $600 million to $8.4 billion. Wyden’s new proposal is expected to be the basis for negotiations between the two parties over the next week.
ARTBA and the ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition wrote June 25 to all Finance Committee members urging them to both avert the looming short-term trust fund crisis and develop a permanent solution this year to ensure federal highway and transit investment growth in the future.