President Obama highlighted the importance of passing a long-term surface transportation and criticized further short-term program extension during a May 14 press conference following his meeting with Middle East leaders at Camp David.  Among the highlights of the President’s comments were:

 [Y]ou’re absolutely right that now is the time for us to get something done.  I’m practical, and in order for us to get a transportation bill done I’ve got to get cooperation from a Republican-controlled Congress.  And so I’m in discussions with the majority and minority leaders in both chambers, as well as the relevant committee chairpersons. …

“But this is not an area where either side should be looking for political points.  This did not used to be a partisan issue. Building roads, building bridges, building airports, sewer lines, dams, ports — this is how we grow. …

“So my hope is, is that we have a chance to have a serious discussion and look at all potential revenue sources.  What is absolutely true is, is that the Highway Trust Fund has consistently gotten smaller and smaller and smaller, and inadequate for the needs.  What’s also true is patchwork approaches of three months or six months at a time don’t make any sense.  We need some sort of long-term solution.

While the Obama Administration continues to press for combining a Highway Trust Fund revenue solution with a re-write of the U.S. tax code, Capitol Hill leaders from both parties have recently dismissed the prospects of tax reform in 2015.  The President’s comments about “all potential revenue sources,” however, are a clear signal of flexibility on a potential trust fund revenue plan.