We recently reported that the Highway Trust Fund was set to experience cataclysmic budget cuts in the next couple weeks (as we head into August) if the government did not pass legislation to continue the fund. We would like to update that report. Two days ago the House of Representatives approved, by a vote of 365 to 55, to provide $10.8 billion in additional funding. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC of America), the bill will also extend MAP-21 authorization for highway and transit programs through May 2015. The additional funding and the MAP-21 authorization should allow for current funding levels to continue through May of next year. While this represents a bit of exciting news in what has become an issue mired in gridlock and partisanship, this bill still has to pass the Senate and make its way to the President’s desk (a president who previously wanted nothing less than a long term deal for the HTF).
Mr. Obama wanted a four year $302 billion dollar deal that would ensure the Highway Trust Fund would allow for future road and transit spending. And who can blame him? Our infrastructure is currently falling apart, it ranks behind countries like Bahrain and Oman in overall quality and is thoroughly outdated. Our other problem is that we have a national deficit that is climbing higher and higher which is a serious threat to our countries financial future. Republicans and Democrats have bickered over both issues for years and it’s why the continuation of the Highway Trust Fund has become such a polarizing topic. With time running out on the fund the White House has changed its’ stance on the issue and looks willing to accept a short term deal. In a recent statement the Obama administration indicated their support of H.R. 5021.
“With surface transportation funding running out and hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk later this summer, the administration supports House passage of H.R. 5021. This legislation would provide for continuity of funding for the Highway Trust Fund during the height of the summer construction season and keep Americans at work repairing the Nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and transit systems.”
With support from both the President and the House the bill will just have to pass the Senate. If the bill passes it will be a short term success, enough to get us through this year, but not enough to secure our future. If you’d like to help secure that future please get in contact with your local and state representatives.