By Dave Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA
An additional 11 members of Congress this week signed the letter by House Highways & Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Ranking Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) urging the House Ways & Means Committee to include “a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) structural revenue deficit” as part of tax reform legislation. Despite ongoing progress to build bipartisan support, we are not done yet—and for good reason.
President Donald Trump’s FY 2018 budget underscores the need to make a strong showing of support for a permanent HTF fix. The administration’s proposal calls for limiting 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. This approach would require reductions in trust fund-supported highway and public transportation investments of roughly 40 percent. Rather than supporting a real HTF solution, the budget signals the administration wants state and local governments to take more responsibility for their transportation needs and ignores the fact that states on average rely on federal funds to support more than half their highway and bridge capital improvements.
Our goal is to secure signatures on the Graves- Norton letter from a majority of members in both parties to show support for a trust fund solution as part of any tax reform package. As of June 2, the letter had 217 signatures: 98 Republicans and 119 Democrats. An additional 21 Republicans are needed for a majority. The letter is addressed to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who is spearheading the chamber’s tax reform effort.
The 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.”
House members return to Washington, D.C., next week after a week-long recess. This is a great opportunity to call the Capitol switchboard at 202.225.3121 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.