Congress back in session as Highway Trust Fund deadline looms

congress building at nightCongress was back in session this week after the August recess, and the clock is ticking for lawmakers to act on road funding before the Highway Trust Fund expires at the end of October.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said in late August that the Highway Trust Fund would remain solvent through the third quarter of 2016, but all new authorization of projects would have to stop as soon as the October 29 deadline comes in a month and a half.

And Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) said he worries that lawmakers will hear the HTF has funds for an extra few months and not give a new highway bill the attention it deserves.

“I wasn’t happy to hear that because we need to go ahead,” Inhofe told the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. “If we don’t get this done when we’re scheduled to, we’re going to miss a construction season, an entire year.”

The Highway Trust Fund was extended with a short-term patch for the 34th time since 2008 back in July, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been calling for something more long-term like the Senate’s six-year DRIVE Act, which the House has yet to vote on.

U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx said Congress needs to get something done this year.

“I think if they decide to wait until the election year, it could be an empty promise… not a lot goes on in election years,” Foxx said.