The Obama administration submitted its proposal to Congress for funding America’s roads, bridges, and transit systems. However, likely opposition from congressional Republicans will make passage difficult.
The President proposes a four-year, $302 billion bill that would be partially funded via ending certain tax breaks for businesses, a concept opposed by many Republicans. The current surface transportation law, “Moving Ahead for Progress if the 21st Century (MAP-21),” is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2014. Congress must therefore develop and pass a new transportation bill or extend the current law by the September 30 deadline.
"At the end of the day, the important thing is that we pass a bill that avoids a destructive collapse in funding that would threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs and inflict unnecessary damage on our economy," said Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Without Congressional action, the Highway Trust Fund is projected to hit bankruptcy this fall, or even as early as August. Generating approximately $35 billion each year, the trust fund is comprised of three accounts: the Highway Fund, the Mass Transit Account, and the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund. The Highway Trust Fund is financed via a federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. The tax on gasoline and diesel fuel has not been increased since 1993 and is increasingly proving to be inadequate to meet the needs of the nation’s surface transportation system.
Rep. Bill Shuster (R., Penn.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said in a statement he is sure he "won't agree with all the details" in the bill.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D., W.V.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, described the President’s bill as "one step in the right direction." However, he said paying for the bill will be difficult, and alternative financing approaches should be considered.