House passes highway bill as deadline looms

Congress finds $10.8 billion to keep transportation programs solvent through May 2015
Associated Press
Jul 15, 2014

With an August deadline looming, the House voted Tuesday to temporarily patch over a multibillion-dollar pothole in federal highway and transit programs while ducking the issue of how to put them on a sound financial footing for the long term.

The action cobbles together $10.8 billion by using pension tax changes, customs fees and money from a fund to repair leaking underground fuel storage tanks to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for transportation programs nationwide, solvent through May 2015. The vote was 367 to 55. A similar bill is pending in the Senate.

Without congressional action, the Transportation Department says that by the first week in August the fund will no longer have enough money to cover promised aid to states, and the government will begin to stretch out payments. Congress has kept the highway trust fund teetering on the edge of bankruptcy since 2008 through a series of temporary fixes because lawmakers have been unable to find a politically acceptable long-term funding plan.

The most obvious solution would be to raise the federal 18. 4 cents a gallon gasoline and 24.4 cents a gallon diesel tax, which haven't been increased in over 20 years. But lawmakers are reluctant to raise taxes in an election year — especially Republicans for whom a vote in favor of any tax increase could trigger a backlash from their party's base.

As a result, Congress has had to look elsewhere for transportation money while not increasing the federal deficit. The bill by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., relies on tax changes that are forecast to generate revenue over 10 years, but provide only enough money to keep the highway and transit programs going for another 10 months.

The largest chunk of the money, $6.4 billion, results from allowing employers to defer payments to their employee pension plans. Funding pension plans normally results in a tax savings for companies, and deferring those payments means they will pay more in taxes and increase federal revenue. But several lawmakers suggested the revenue from the pension changes is illusory.

"Come on, really, it's pretty phony stuff," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. "Let's get real about how we're going to fund our transportation" programs.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, defended the bill while acknowledging its limits. "Listen, these are difficult decisions in difficult times in an election year," he said. "The long-term problem is still there and needs to be addressed."

President Barack Obama, touring a transportation research center in Virginia, said he supports the House and Senate bills to keep aid flowing to states, but wants more.

"All this does is set us up for the same crisis a few months from now. So Congress shouldn't pat itself on the back for averting disaster for a few months," he said. Earlier this year, Obama offered a $302 billion plan to increase transportation spending and keep programs going for another four years. The plan, which was paid for by closing business tax loopholes, was received coolly by Republicans.

Democrats and some Republicans complained that it won't be any easier under the GOP bill to reach a compromise on sustainable, long-term means to pay for programs by pushing off a decision until next year when the presidential campaign is heating up. Republicans, however, may be in a better position to shape a transportation bill to their liking next year if they re-take control of the Senate in this fall's midterm elections.

Republicans are divided over transportation policy. A significant minority of the party's more conservative House members want to slash federal gas and diesel taxes, dramatically scale back transportation aid and leave it to states to come up with the money to pay for roads, bridges, buses and trains.

The conservative Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America, which are influential with Tea Party Republicans, urged lawmakers to vote against the Camp bill. But as a sop to conservatives, House GOP leaders allowed an amendment by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., that says Congress should "increase the authority and responsibility of the states" to fund and manage their transportation systems.

But Democrats said greater federal spending is needed to repair and replace the nation's aging infrastructure, meet the needs of a growing population and keep pace with other nations like China which are spending a greater share of their economies on transportation than the U.S.

States have been told to expect an average 28 percent reduction in aid if Congress doesn't act. The fund is expected to reach a zero balance by the end of August. Some states already have begun to delay or cancel construction projects due to the uncertainty of federal money.

The House defeated along party lines a motion by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., that would reduce the money in the bill to about $8 billion — just enough to pay for highway and transit aid through Dec. 31 — in the hope that another quick deadline would force Congress to come to an agreement on a long-term funding plan this year.

 

Comments

jazzbo

How is your momma doing these days ?

Darwin's choice

So there porch cootie, just what is your purpose here?

obama/failed you

Donegan

If your question is addressed to me here are your answers
1# this is not a theocracy and it does not matter whichever god i choose to worship, He is not making public policy here in the United states.
2# Someone from a party that is not one of the main two than have created these problems. The two main parties are bought and sold like stocks on the market.
I look at our republic as a system of checks and balances that are supposed to stop the encroachment of government into private lives even if the majority of those who elected him for stepping on others rights.(Think slavery or voters rights)
In essence to protect rights, Not take them away. To insure opportunity, Not punish success. To safeguard our borders and protect the inhabitants of our country, Not harass our citizens while opening the borders to foreigners. You look at the government as a type of handout king that should be raped for everything it is worth not realizing you are extorting your fellow citizens of their well earned gains. YOU are whats wrong with this nation, YOU are whats making the US into a third world nation, YOU and your ilk have proven to hate the US and its system and wish to destroy it. Whats so snarky about the truth?

sugar

Here, here!

2cents

+100

jazzbo

@ Dumb again -

That was a lot of horseshit .
You are bloviating and dodged my questions.

Donegan

Comprehension seems to be a problem with you. Read my response again, The answers are numbered and everything. I would color code and use shapes but this is just text postings so i am doing the best i can to work with you here.
I never really knew how hard it was to work with special needs people till i tried to rationally explain anything to a liberal.

jazzbo

I ask you simple questions and instead I get deflection and flowery insults from a cracked Teapot.

How charming.

Donegan

Still cannot read, I feel sorry for you.

jazzbo

I feel sorry for you , little one.

PS

You think you've said something but you haven't.
You try to sound noble but its nonsense.
You are self-deluded but you don't know it.

Donegan

If i wanted my own come back i would talk to your mom.

jazzbo

That wasn't funny and it didn't make any sense.

I expect as much from you.

PS

Tell your mother she can keep mine.

Donegan

Anyone with a IQ above 20 will get the joke. I truly feel sorry for you.
P.S (<---This stands for post script, That means after the main text there's a add on.)I will start trying to cater to your disability by explaining things the best i can but i seriously do not see how it will help. I cannot fix stupid.

jazzbo

The best part of you ran down your mother's leg.

Do ya get that ?

jazzbo

And I truly feel sorry for you too , dear.

sugar

Is the Register going to stop this offensive rhetoric? MATT WESTERHOLD this is beyond political bickering.

The Big Dog's back

Then quit posting sugar and all the offensive rhetoric will go away.

jazzbo

@ sugar-

MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY !!!

jazzbo

Dumbagain-

It really is an unfunny and awkward joke, but I take into consideration that you are retarded .

Donegan

Thank you for being a example of how Liberals cannot think for themselves and can only repeat what has been told to them. I seriously feel sorry for you.

jazzbo

And I thank you for being another fine example of far rightwing delusional thinking.

Hurry now ! Run along !

Rush , Alex Jones , and Fox News are on. You need to let them tell you what to think.

I will pray for you.

Donegan

This entire conversation is a example of why not to argue with liberals. "Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience."
You have yet to get off your knees to Obama so i have serious doubts whether he will hear your prayers after 6 years.

The Big Dog's back

So that's what you look for in a President? To bring your sorry azz out of your hole? Ain't no saving a right wingnut like yourself.

jazzbo

" "Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience."

- You win.

jazzbo

...And your joke is still childish.

Your mother likes it and the joke too.

The Big Dog's back

done again, where do you come up with this nonsensical blather? Who has been punished for success? Name names. What rights have you had taken away? When have you been harassed? Name time and places.

Donegan

You cannot use google? Look it up. I cannot explain things to two morons at the same time, I was never trained as a special Ed teacher and i think it would just be too much.

jazzbo

You were never trained as a special Ed teacher for the simple reason that you are a special ed student.

You Teapots are just amazingly special (ed) .

The Big Dog's back

Or could it be done again that you are full of sheet.

The Big Dog's back

I'd like to know where done again gets his info from. rush? alex jones? fux?

Pages