Friday, February 24, 2012

U S House Moving Towards Senate Version of Highway Bill

Now that substantially different legislative measures for long term surface transportation funding have gone to the floors of both the House and the Senate, work on the bills is stalled while House Republican leaders noodle over ways to cut back both the duration and generosity of their funding measure to bring it more into line with the Senate version. Facing a March 31, 2012 expiration date for current Highway Trust Fund appropriations, along with a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the proposed House measure would bankrupt the trust fund sometime in fiscal 2016, Congressmen and their leaders are attempting to cobble together a passable measure with zero earmarks which would avoid addressing the problem of declining motor fuel tax revenues until after the November elections.

The last long term Highway Trust Fund reauthorization expired in 2009, and included more than 6,300 House and Senate earmarks for the pet projects of our elected officials. Meanwhile the Senate measure has been sidetracked by votes on proposed amendments unrelated to surface transportation, which have been attached by Senators viewing the highway legislation as one of the few bills likely to pass before elections roll around.  All of this political posturing bodes further ill for the construction industry across the nation.

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