The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor to extend transportation funding into December Wednesday afternoon, just two weeks before the Highway Trust Fund is set to expire.
The $8.1 billion bill passed 312-119 and would mark the 34th straight short-term patch for road funding since 2008 if it is approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama. Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said the House transportation patch would gives Congress more time to come up with a quality, long-term transportation bill, according to The Hill.
“We don’t like patches more than anybody else does,” Ryan, the bill’s co-sponsor, said. “But this patch is necessary to make sure that [construction] projects don’t stop.”
Despite passing with bipartisan support, yet another transportation stopgap didn’t sit well with many of the Democrats in the House.
“If kicking the can down the road was an Olympic sport, what we would win here in the United States Congress, we would win gold, we would win bronze, we’d win silver, and we’d win aluminum,” Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) said.
While the Senate will now consider the bill, it’s also still considering its own transportation bill—one that’s long-term as most lawmakers have been advocating. The Senate bill is expected to include a rider that would extend the U.S. Import-Export Bank, which expired June 30. Many Republicans are against the Import-Export Bank, and this latest HTF patch was pushed through quickly in order to challenge the Senate bill.
The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, meanwhile, continued to call for a long-term bill in the wake of the House passing HB 3038.
“With the two chambers differing on strategy to fund highways past July 31, it’s impossible to say what will happen,” NSSGA senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs Pam Whitted said. “NSSGA supports a six-year highway reauthorization, and we need it now.”
The House bill is funded by extending higher Transportation Security Administration fees until 2026—which would raise $3.2 billion and the rest of the funding comes from tax code changes to improve collections and reporting income.