Obama backed the highway patch sponsored by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., in what may be the last nail in the coffin for an unemployment extension. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
President Barack Obama is backing the House GOP’s proposed Highway Trust Fund patch, even though it could postpone a long-term bill until the next Congress and may doom any remaining chance for an unemployment extension.
“With surface transportation funding running out and hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk later this summer, the Administration supports House passage of H.R. 5021,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a Statement of Administration Policy. “This legislation would provide for continuity of funding for the Highway Trust Fund during the height of the summer construction season and keep Americans at work repairing the Nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems.”
The roughly $10 billion highway patch is paid for with extension of customs fees and with so-called pension smoothing — which delays payments made by corporations to their pension funds, temporarily boosting their profits and taxes paid to the government.
The Senate had used those same offsets to pay for its five-month, retroactive unemployment extension. Extended unemployment benefits expired in December, and the House has declined to act, with Republicans suggesting that cutting people off of benefits — more than 3 million to date — has helped lower the unemployment rate. Full story