Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 22, 2014

Some Light at End of Highway Funding Tunnel as Committees OK Similar Revenue Bills

The tax-writing committees in both the House and the Senate on Thursday approved bills to raise revenue to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.

The committees’ votes put Congress closer to preventing a slowdown in federal money to states, which are now in the middle of road-building season.

The Senate Finance Committee OK’d on a voice vote Thursday afternoon a bipartisan package of revenue raisers and money transfers, but in somewhat different mixture than the House bill.

The Finance Committee bill would transfer $7.8 billion from general tax revenues to the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund, and another $2 billion from general revenues to the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund, in line with what the House Ways and Means Committee bill would do.

CQ’s David Harrison reported that a few hours before the Senate panel acted, the House Ways and Means Committee, approved — also by voice vote — a package which had some of the same elements as the Senate bill.

How the bills will be reconciled and how a final version fares in a House floor vote remain the pressing questions.

Despite the progress Thursday, road building advocates were less than completely satisfied.

“While we appreciate the efforts of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees to move forward this week on their respective plans to keep federal transportation funds flowing to the states, these actions must not be the latest ‘punt and leave the stadium’ strategy that has plagued the federal surface transportation program for far too long,” said Peter Ruane, president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

He said, “Our message to Congress is simple: your job isn’t close to being done.”

Lawmakers and Obama administration officials ought to “develop a long-term and sustainable Highway Trust Fund solution that supports future transportation capital investments” before the end of this year, he said.

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