By David Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA
The House of Representatives today approved 312-119 legislation, “The Highway and Transportation Funding Act, Part II,” (H.R. 3038) to extend the authorization of the federal highway and public transportation programs through December 31 and infuse the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) with $8 billion to preserve existing levels of investment during that period. By comparison, the House passed a 10-month extension with $10.8 billion for the HTF one year ago today 367 to 55.
The increased opposition for this year’s extension came from both parties, but with a much larger share of “No” votes coming from Democrats. Only 10 Democrats opposed the 2014 extension, while 54 voted “No” today. Many Democrats during today’s debate pointed out that the claims of House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) and other Republicans that a five-month extension will give them time to find a long-term trust fund solution are the exact rhetoric used last July 15 to justify a 10-month extension.
The current short-term extension of the highway and public transportation programs expires July 31. Congressional action is needed to allow federal surface transportation funds to be spent beyond that date and also to provide the HTF with additional funds to prevent a slowdown of reimbursements in July and a shutdown of new spending on October 1.