Fleet Management

House Rejects Senate Highway Trust Fund Patch as Deadline Looms

July 31, 2014

By Oliver Patton

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Congress is inching ever closer to the edge of insolvency for the Highway Trust Fund.

On Thursday afternoon the House rejected the Senate’s bill to patch the Fund into December and sent its original bill back to the upper chamber. The vote was 271-149.

Members of the House then prepared to depart for their five-week summer break.

The Senate has until Friday to either accept the House bill that it rejected earlier this week, or let the fund tip into insolvency, risking thousands of highway projects and as many as 700,000 highway construction jobs.

If the Senate does not act, on Friday, August 1, the Department of Transportation will have to start cutting back reimbursements to states for highway projects they have completed.

At issue was a House bill that patches the fund through next May, versus a Senate bill that extends the patch only though December 19.

Senators who pushed the December 19 patch said they wanted to force Congress to act on a long-term highway bill before the end of the year. They rejected the May patch because it increases the likelihood that Congress will default to another short-term extension.

The other major difference between the bills is how they pay for the patch.

The House bill relies on an accounting mechanism called “pension smoothing” to replenish the general treasury. This refers to a temporary lowering of pension funding requirements to increase business profits. Those presumed profits are taxed, producing a presumed increase in government revenue.

A majority of Senators objected to this mechanism and opted for the shorter patch, which does not need “smoothing.”

But the Senate made a $2 billion counting error when it added up the costs of its bill, which gave opponents in the House ammunition in their fight against the Senate version.

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the Senate’s bill actually would get the Highway Trust Fund only to October.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., who supported the Senate approach, said the mistake could be corrected in a matter of minutes, but Camp said he was certain that, due to the mistake, the Senate would accept the House bill.

Camp also said that he plans to hold a hearing on highway finance before the Ways and Means Committee in September.

Comments

  1. 1. LD Meyer [ July 31, 2014 @ 03:12PM ]

    When are we going to get rid of these children in Congress? All they can do is patch this and patch that and fund this for 3 months, and that for 3 months they just wake up every now and then and think the mess this country is in and its just a bad dream and roll over and go back to sleep. All they ever do is put a bandaid here, duct tape there, baling wire and tarp straps when they see fit. All they do is have committees formed and established these phony "Gang of 8", I don't think they can count any higher than that, this is nothing but the ol' "kick the can down the road". Any time you give these minions the power to vote themselves raises, allude Social Security and Medicare, have insider trading privileges (Martha Stuart went to prison for it), bypass TSA patdown and X-rays(military can't do this), exempt themselves from Obomya Care, get an over the top retirement, RETIREMENT? (they're NOT employees) take all these breaks and vacations, don't show up in D.C. until Tuesday and party and hob nob with the lobbyists and nurse a hangover all day Wednesday then pack up Thursday to be back home by Friday so they can rest up for the weekend. After one term this is what the taxpayer gets, they're card carrying members of "The Good Ol' boys Club", you know "Scratch my back I'll scratch yours" and the "Go along to get along gang". Well this fall let's boot these blood sucking deadbeats out and put some decent statesmen with some integrity and common sense in there, we just can't afford anymore of this sloth and laziness. This is why we need term limits, put a cap on money and time for campaigning, incumbents should not be allowed to campaign, their track record should speak for itself,(how can they campaign and represent their constituents at the same time?) no money donated by foreign countries, unions, corporations or any kind of business (unions and corporations don't vote), reduce the Senate term to two years like the House. Well vote conservative, live better and s

  2. 2. LD Meyer [ July 31, 2014 @ 08:32PM ]

    How come the fuel tax hasn't been indexed clear back in the '70's when we had our first fuel crisis. Damn fools anyway, now you want to establish committees and studies you lame bastards and drag this out, is this just another ploy or distraction to take our eye off the ball you phony good for nothing imbeciles. Well you counterfeits the fall elections are coming up and we're poised to take your worthless asses out, and you only have your worthless selves to blame, lazy bastards!

  3. 3. Ron [ August 01, 2014 @ 12:14PM ]

    LD Meyer, you finally got me to the point of speaking up. How about when they are elected, 2 weeks vacation for the term they are elected, they pay their own air fare home, and are only allowed one secretary, and one assistant, all other staff is at their expense. All other "benefits" end at the end of each term. That might be a start towards balancing the budget?

 

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