Monday, October 19, 2015

GOP House Leadership Dustup Drops Highway Funding Bill Into Another Abyss

John Boehner’s announcement of his resignation as Speaker, and Kevin McCarthy’s abrupt withdrawal from the race to succeed him, have plunged into limbo once again all hopes for resolution of the Highway Trust Fund’s long term funding issues before the current patch expires on October 29, 2015. Look for another short term bill to keep funds flowing to road and bridge construction projects around the nation while Congress once more punts the problem into the 2016 legislative session.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Schuster (R-Pa.) has scheduled his full committee’s markup of the House version of a three year Highway Trust Fund appropriation bill for 10:00 a.m. October 22, in Room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building, just one week before the current authorization expires on October 29. That leaves clearly insufficient time for action on the House floor, and a conference committee resolution of differences with the Senate’s three year, $50 billion bill passed 65-34 by the Senate on July 30.

Announcing the markup session, Chairman Schuster said: “Our nation’s economy depends on a safe, efficient surface transportation system … Next week, the Committee will move forward with the policy and authorization provisions of a bill to improve America’s surface transportation infrastructure, reform programs, refocus those programs on national priorities, provide more flexibility and certainty for state and local partners, and welcome innovation.” He neglected to explain how he proposes to fill the cash gap between shrinking motor fuel tax revenues and growing repair and replacement needs for roads, bridges, rails and waterways which move our nation’s citizens and cargo.
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