The U.S. House passes an $11 billion stop-gab bill to fund transportation projects through next May, but can it reach a deal with the Senate before the money runs out August First?
Newer vehicles are so efficient, the federal gas tax no longer is enough to fund highway fixes. If the money runs out next month, that could mean a delay in pothole repairs, a loss of construction jobs and even increased traffic.
“Bottom line is Americans travel, so does our cargo, so does our business, and they need to trust the roads and bridges are properly funded,” Woodlands Republican Kevin Brady said this week.
The bill would transfer $9.9 billion from the general fund and $1 billion from a separate trust fund into the rapidly dwindling Highway Trust Fund. Both are steps critics have denounced as gimmicks and “smoke and mirrors.”
Brady admits a funding extension only amounts to a quick fix.
“We need to make sure that system doesn't shut down, that it continues for at least another year until we can find a permanent solution,” he said.
Because Congress is unlikely to raise the federal gas tax, states are hiking their own tax to make up the difference.
“How we fund and repair our nation's highways, bridges waterways and ports, all of that is a big deal,” says Brady. “We need a 21st Century solution, because our nation's infrastructure is vital to our economy.”