Just hours after the House turned down the Senate’s highway funding bill, Congress has passed a $10.8 billion bill to fund the Highway Trust Fund. Without the temporary patch, the HTF would have run dry in the next month or so. The bill is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama and should allow continued funding for road, highway and bridge construction through May 2015.
Although it’s nice to hear the House and the Senate could agree on something, it’s hardly the agreement everyone was hoping for.
“We commend the House and Senate for preserving the continuity of federal highway and transit funding to the states with a short-term revenue patch. That, no doubt, temporarily saved many Americans their jobs. We want to be clear, however, that we find no reason for anyone to celebrate what amounts to a last minute first down pass,” American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane said in a statement.
Now that Congress has patched a temporary fix, it is extremely important to work out a long-term agreement. Without a multi-year deal, states are hesitant to start any major road projects in fear of funding running out before completion.
“It is incumbent on the Congress to now focus full-bore on the end zone—enacting a long-term, sustainable revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund before the end of this year,” Ruane said. “That will allow the Congress to then focus on developing and passing a long-term surface transportation program reauthorization bill before the eight-month May extension deadline that was just set expires. There is no reason why a funding solution needs to wait for a reauthorization bill. That’s putting the cart before the horse.”
On Friday, August 8, President Barack Obama signed the highway bill passed by Congress.