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Congress extends federal highway program until May 2015

August 1, 2014

After much back and forth maneuvering between the U.S. Senate and House, Congress finally passed legislation stabilizing the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) until May 31, 2015.  The bill cleared the final stage in the U.S. Senate late last night by an 81 to 13 vote.  Both Pennsylvania Senators Casey and Toomey voted in favor of the final vote to extend the HTF.  The bill now heads to President Obama who indicated he would sign it into law.

The legislation will—in the short-term–stabilize the HTF and prevent a rationing of federal highway funds for already approved projects, which the U.S. Department of Transportation was scheduled to implement during August in order to preserve a positive trust fund balance.  As a result, the HTF will receive a nearly $11 billion infusion of resources from elsewhere in the federal budget to supplement existing trust fund revenues.  The amount is sufficient to continue existing levels of federal highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015.  The legislation also would extend the current authorization of the highway and transit programs from September 30 to May 31, 2015.

It is important to note that these congressional actions will seemingly postpone the need for action until next year, Congress has not taken any action to fix the inherent structure of the HTF in order to place it on course for long-term solvency.  It is imperative that the industry continue to impress upon our congressional delegation and U.S. Senators the need for a long-term, comprehensive bill at the federal level that will put the HTF back on a pathway to address the country’s growing infrastructure needs.

 

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