Monday, April 23, 2018

Bipartisan representatives urge long-term funding for Highway Trust Fund

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

In a bipartisan letter to the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, lawmakers — including 119 Republicans — urged the panel to come up with a long-term funding solution for the Highway Trust Fund when they pursue a major overhaul of the tax code.

In fact, more than 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives said they want a fix for the ailing Highway Trust Fund (HTF) included in any tax reform package this year, The Hill newspaper reports.

The fund, which distributes money around the country for road and other transportation projects, is financed by federal fuel taxes that haven’t been raised in more than 20 years.

Lawmakers said that all HTF revenue enhancements in the past 30 years have come as part of a larger deficit reduction or tax reform package.

“As the Committee on Ways and Means continues to work toward a much-need update of the U.S. tax code, you have an opportunity to fix the Highway Trust Fund,” the lawmakers wrote.

“If states are unable to rely on timely reimbursements from the HTF for performed work, projects will be halted, improvements to road safety and congestion relief will be jeopardized, and America’s infrastructure will fall further behind the rest of the world,” the Hill article stated.

Congress cobbled together funding for the Highway Trust Fund in the last surface transportation bill using a series of budgetary “gimmicks,” according to the newspaper. But the fund will face another shortfall in 2020, when the highway bill’s current funding expires.

Lawmakers will need to provide another short-term injection of cash or come up with a long-term funding solution, which lawmakers have historically been unable to produce.

Members in the House see a new opening in Congress, given the Trump administration’s emphasis on massive infrastructure spending.

Some of the funding ideas that have been mentioned include charging fees based on the number of miles a vehicle travels, raising the gas tax and increasing existing sales and tires taxes.

“The president has made rebuilding our transportation network a priority, and rightfully so,” said Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on highways and transit and helped lead efforts on the letter.

“But, instead of thinking a one-time, trillion-dollar investment would solve our infrastructure problems, my focus is on making sure we’re being responsible in how we plan for and fund projects in the future.”

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