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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Replenishing the Highway Trust Fund to repair America's roads

President Obama took to the Key Bridge, two years since his last visit, to make the case that the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the fund designed to help states repair and rebuild America's infrastructure, could potentially run out of funds if Congress doesn't act soon.

"It’s not crazy, it’s not socialism.   It’s not the imperial presidency. No laws are broken.  We’re just building roads and bridges like we’ve been doing for the last, I don’t know, 50, 100 years.  But so far, House Republicans have refused to act on this idea.  I haven’t heard a good reason why they haven’t acted. "It’s not like they’ve been busy with other stuff", the president said.  

Also weighing in on this issue is DC Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

“If Congress does not act by the end of the month it will force the Department of Transportation to ration reimbursements to the states, and will be directly responsible for the loss of thousands of good-paying jobs, for the slowdown of current projects, and for the cancellation of new infrastructure work nationwide." 

Norton says if the Fund is not replenished it could lead to an "infrastructure emergency"

"The greatest danger, of course, is to the economy itself", writes Norton in a press release.

"Instead of investing in our infrastructure and in jobs, House Republicans have held steadfast to maintain corporate loopholes that ship jobs and investments overseas. Only real money, no gimmicks, can fix this.”  

Norton is an original cosponsor of H.R. 4985, the Stop Corporate Expatriation and Invest in America’s Infrastructure Act, which closes corporate tax loopholes to help increase revenue for the HTF.

Said the president of Republicans' methodology, "They believe that all we should be doing is giving more tax breaks to those at the top, eliminating regulations that stop big banks or polluters from doing what they want, cut the safety net for people trying to work their way into the middle class, and then somehow the economy is going to get stronger and jobs and prosperity trickle down to everybody.  That’s their worldview.  I’m sure they sincerely believe it.  It’s just not accurate.  It does not work. 

To their credit, this past May, Republicans proposed a plan that would increase the fund by $14M, by using savings from the US Postal Service's roll back of Saturday postal delivery.

The plan was soon denounced by Democrats and thought to be a "ridiculous" idea.

If Congress does not allocate more funds to the HTF, the Department Of Transportation will implement a cash management plan at the beginning of August to manage the flow of federal dollars to states, and reimbursements for infrastructure work will be limited to the available cash remaining in the HTF. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) suggests that it will cost $8.1 billion to keep the HTF solvent through the end of the calendar year.
See also
Highway Safety Improvement 

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