Long-term, short-term highway funding feud

By |  August 17, 2015

The Senate approved a long-term highway-funding bill. The House of Representatives approved a short-term highway-funding bill. And at the end of July, the House cornered the Senate into approving a three-month extension, leaving the long-term funding issue unresolved.

The lack of a long-term funding resolution is frustrating for aggregate producers, given the fact that the country is leaning on a temporary bill to support highway funding. There is some hope, though, that a long-term bill could come into fruition when the congressional recess ends.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to push for his long-term highway-funding bill after the congressional recess. In fact, McConnell is pushing for it even during the current recess.

According to The Lane Report, a Kentucky business magazine, McConnell’s long-term highway-funding bill would provide three years of guaranteed funding for interstate highway projects without raising taxes or adding to the deficit.

Despite the fact that the House ignored McConnell’s bill before leaving for recess, McConnell told The Hill he predicts the House will be more willing to take up the long-term highway bill when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., in September.

According to The Hill, McConnell developed his long-term highway bill as lawmakers scrambled to beat the July 31 deadline to renew federal transportation funding. The Senate approved the bill, but the House refused to take it up.

According to The Hill, figuring out how to pay for a bill is the biggest roadblock toward an agreement.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently pushed for lawmakers to “work together” to pass a long-term highway bill when Congress returns. The two wrote an op-ed on the issue that appeared in the Lincoln Journal-Star.

“America needs a long-term infrastructure strategy,” they wrote. “The federal government must provide state and local policymakers with the right tools to maintain and update our infrastructure or build new projects. Unfortunately, Congress has relied on 34 short-term extensions since 2009, disrupting major infrastructure projects and causing stress for road builders, local officials and the traveling public. We can and should do better.”

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