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Congress Sends Highway Bill to President

Saturday, August 9, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lindsey Johnson
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Congress sent H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act, to President Obama Aug. 1. The bill successfully amends the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund to May 31, 2015 and provides funding for programs important to recreational boating for coastal wetlands restoration, recreational boating safety, sport fish restoration, projects under the Clean Vessel Act, boating infrastructure grants, and the national outreach program. The bill increases the total obligation for all projects under the Highway Trust Fund to $26,800,569,863, for an increase of $10.8 billion until May 31, 2015.

The House passed the bill first; the Senate followed with its own, slightly different version, which would have raised additional money to help keep the fund afloat. Republicans in the House held out for the possibility of winning the Senate during November elections and increasing their advantage in the House to make major tax or policy changes. But because time was clearly running out before the Highway Trust Fund was expected to encounter financial difficulties in honoring its current projects, the Senate agreed to the House language. This action gives Congress more time to come up with a long-term fix.

The Highway Trust Fund is challenged with decreasing revenues due to improved vehicle gas mileage. Congress last passed the norm in transportation policy, a six-year funding bill, in 2005. It’s estimated transportation needs are now about $100 billion over six years. Members of Congress face a tough task in the coming months to resolve funding needs and repair the nation’s existing transportation system. Meanwhile, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund hangs in the balance.