By Dave Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA
The effort by House Highways & Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Ranking Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) to demonstrate broad bipartisan support for including “a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) structural revenue deficit” as part of legislation now being developed to reform the U.S. tax code is making progress. But we are not done yet.
The release of President Donald Trump’s FY 2018 budget underscores the importance of securing a permanent Highway Trust Fund fix. The administration’s proposal calls for constraining highway and public transportation investment to the levels that could be supported by existing trust fund revenues once the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act expires in September 2020. That measure temporarily stabilized the HTF with a one-time $70 billion transfer from the federal general fund. If no new revenues are generated before the FAST Act’s expiration, the approach endorsed in the president’s budget would require reductions in trust fund-supported highway and public transportation investments of roughly 40 percent.
The Graves- Norton letter—which is addressed to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who is spearheading the chamber’s tax reform effort—currently has 206 signatures: 93 Republicans and 113 Democrats. While that far exceeds the amount of support for a similar letter last year, our goal is to secure signatures from a majority of House members from both parties. The 113 current Democratic signatures bests that threshold, but 27 more Republicans are needed to show a majority of that party also supports a trust fund solution as part of any tax reform package.
The Graves-Norton letter also notes, “Any HTF solution should entail a long-term, dedicated, user-based revenue stream that can support the transportation infrastructure investment supported by President Trump and Members of Congress from both parties.”
The House of Representatives will be in recess for the week of Memorial Day and many members will be at home. This is a great opportunity to ask your representative to show their support for finally ending the HTF gimmicks and short-term patches and providing states with real certainty about future federal highway and public transportation investment by signing the Graves-Norton letter.
Alternatively, you can call the Capitol switchboard at 202.225.3121 to get connected with your Representative’s office and voice your support for your Representative signing the letter.