Congress, Administration Begin Work on Highway Bill Reauthorization
With the end of January, Congress and the Administration have begun laying the groundwork for negotiation of a long-term Highway Bill reauthorization. The Highway Trust Fund, which collects gasoline tax revenue and distributes the funds to states for infrastructure improvements, will run out of money by the end of May 2015. As a result, the Obama Administration and both houses of Congress are proposing new legislation and conducting hearings to consider various proposals and viewpoints.
On Wednesday, January 28th, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx appeared at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works on the subject, along with the governors of Alabama, Connecticut, Vermont, and South Dakota. The hearing focused on the importance of quickly extending Highway Programs that have broad bipartisan support, and encouraged the Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal highway infrastructure programs, to pass the White House’s four-year, $302 billion GROW AMERICA Act. The GROW AMERICA Act would dedicate funding from business tax reform to support infrastructure projects.
On Monday, February 2nd, the Obama Administration released its proposed budget to Congress for Fiscal Year 2016. This budget proposal stretches even further than the GROW AMERICA Act, and would authorize transportation programs for six years at a cost of $478 billion (again financed through tax reform). As with his previous proposals to fund infrastructure spending, including the GROW AMERICA Act, the budget was met by members of Congress with skepticism. Increasing the current gas tax rates is considered far-less palatable to Congress than other aspects of tax reform, there remains significant opposition to increasing spending or to allocating revenue to anything other than lowering marginal tax rates.
The Transportation & Infrastructure Committee of the House of Representatives will convene a hearing on the Highway Bill this year on Wednesday, February 11. For more information, please contact Chris Burroughs (email@example.com, 703-299-5705) or Will Sehestedt (firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-299- 5713) of TIA’s Government Affairs staff.