Lawmakers Propose Short-Term Highway Patch

With the clock ticking down on the expiration of current highway law, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) on May 14 proposed a two-month extension into July. The proposal also calls on Congress to finish a multi-year transportation bill.

With the clock ticking down on the expiration of current highway law, lawmakers from both Chambers are pressing for a short-term patch to infrastructure funding. 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) on May 15 introduced a bill to extend the spending authority for highway and transit programs through July. 

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) just one day earlier also proposed a two-month extension. 

Current highway law expires May 31. However the House is set to depart for the Memorial Day recess on May 21, and the Senate departs one day later, giving elected officials just days to ensure that highway funding continues. 

Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on May 11 sent letters to state transportation officials to notify them that all federal participation in highway transportation infrastructure construction will stop after May 31 if the current federal funding authorization is allowed to expire.

Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), ranking members of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, on May 11 called for a joint hearing of the Committee on Ways and Means the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

In a letter sent to Rep. Shuster, the pair expressed frustration that “we find ourselves in the middle of another construction season, yet Congress is unable to do more than deliver another short-term patch.”

Lawmakers continue to push for a long-term bill even as they work to resolve the more immediate funding crisis.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee leaders Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Boxer said they are planning a June markup for a six-year highway bill.   

"While Congress continues to debate the funding mechanisms, we believe it is in the best interest that this committee moves forward with consideration of a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill,” the pair said in a statement.




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