Late July 13, the House of Representatives unveiled an extension to fund the nation's highways through nearly the remainder of this year. HR 3038 would pay the necessary $8 billion by combining tax compliance and revenue measures.
The legislation funds all highway concerns until December 18, 2015 by altering multiple IRS rules and reporting mechanisms as well as extending the current budget treatment of Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) fees. All of these measures have little to do with transportation but were cobbled together in order to give more time for Congress to work out a long-term highway bill later this year, according to a report from the Truck Renting and Leasing Association.
It became clear that there was no consensus on how to fund a long-term highway bill earlier this year and the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is set to run out at the end of July so time is of the essence to find a solution. There is also no appetite or time to rush a longer bill as Congress prepares to leave for the August recess so the House acted and now puts pressure on the US Senate to respond. By pushing the legislation now, it gives a few weeks for the Senate to introduce their own legislation and then compromise with the House before Congress adjourns for their recess on July 31.
There is much more consensus in the Senate to get a long-term bill done sooner than in the House where there are significant differences on how to move forward. So far, neither chamber has come up with a viable solution to the funding problem that exists and will continue to exist as the Highway Trust Fund continually takes in less money than it doles out for projects and other transportation-related issues.
There has been bipartisan discussion on tax repatriation and other similar ideas that could help fund a long-term highway bill but most of those have stalled and face opposition from key members of Congress. TRALA continues to believe it is unlikely that Congress can come to any meaningful agreement that is acceptable to the Obama Administration on a long-term bill anytime soon but will continue to lobby Congress on the importance of a vibrant highway system in the coming months.
You may view a summary of the offsets for HR 3038 that describe how the House will pay for the $8 billion needed to fund our highways through December 18, 2015 by clicking here: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/HTF.pdf