By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA
House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) told the Capitol Hill publication Politico June 13 that he plans to introduce an infrastructure plan before the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Shuster said the plan would propose a way to shore up the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), according to Politico.
Shuster, who is not seeking re-election this year, and T&I Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), have discussed in recent weeks their desire to release a plan this year, even if with uncertain prospects for action.
The $70 billion in general fund revenues transferred into the HTF to help support surface transportation spending authorized by the 2015 FAST Act surface transportation reauthorization law is projected to be depleted by Oct. 1, 2020. Absent remedial action by Congress before then, federal surface transportation spending would have to be scaled back by 40 percent to levels existing revenues could support. Otherwise, further general fund transfers would be needed. Having T&I Committee leaders introduce a substantive proposal on the subject, regardless of its chance of success, would at the very least provide a foundation for future legislative activity.
ARTBA will continue advocating for a HTF solvency solution and a robust infrastructure package to be attached to any legislative vehicle moving forward in 2018.