House Republicans say latest stopgap is best route to a long-term highway bill

Updated Jul 17, 2015

congress building at nightWith just two weeks to go before the Highway Trust Fund expires, Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed yet another stopgap to fund transportation projects for another five months.

The bill would provide $8.1 billion through December 18. The House plan was released by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) after a meeting among conservative Freedom Caucus members about funding transportation.

The Hill reports it could be voted on by the end of the week. Republicans in the House are hoping to rush it through to challenge the Senate’s bill. Republicans are against a provision in the Senate bill to extend the U.S. Export-Import Bank that expired June 30.

The Senate bill is a long-term plan—something lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been fighting for. But Ryan and Shushter said the House’s short-term extension will give Congress time to work out a long-term transportation plan by the end of the year.

“This country needs a long-term plan to fix our roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, and this bill gives us our best shot at completing one this year,” Ryan and Shuster said in a joint statement. “By providing resources through the end of the year, we can ensure construction continues while we work toward a package that could close the trust fund’s shortfall for as many as six years. We urge all members who want some long-sought stability in our highway and transit programs to support this critical extension.”

Reuters reported that the House plan—which would be the 34th consecutive short-term patch for the HTF since 2008—would be funded by extending higher Transportation Security Administration fees until 2026. This would raise $3.2 billion and the rest would come from tax code changes to improve collections and reporting income.