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How to Fund Highway Bill Tops Congressional Agenda

Senior aides told Transport Topics the House measure, like the Senate bill, is likely to include provisions on hair testing for pre-employment and random screening as an alternative to urinalysis, changes in size and weight regulations for trucks and to establish a program to allow truck drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 to operate in interstate commerce.

Financing a multiyear bill remains a key challenge for lawmakers, and Shuster, mindful of that, said he is collaborating with the leaders of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee to fund the bill under congressional budget rules.

Ways and Means members oversee the Highway Trust Fund, the account that relies on revenue from fuel taxes to help states pay for infrastructure projects. Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is against raising fuel taxes to boost the dwindling account, complicating how lawmakers come up with the $90 billion that a Congressional Budget Office estimation said is needed to keep highway programs funded for six years.

The Obama administration has called on transportation leaders to finance a multiyear highway bill through revenue from a one-time 14% tax on the earnings U.S. corporations have kept overseas. The White House’s proposal was introduced as legislation by Democrats in the House, despite dismissal of the idea by GOP leaders.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also is doing its part with a social media campaign — hashtagged #ShowUsYourInfraWear — that urges the public to upload photos and videos of aging infrastructure to be showcased on a blog.

“We know of at least seven states that have pulled back on transportation projects because of uncertain federal funding,” said Todd Solomon, the department’s digital media director.

The Transportation Construction Coalition, a group of contractors and unions that plays key roles in the industry, is pressuring Congress on a multiyear bill. It is relying on radio ads targeting Ryan and 15 other Republicans on the Ways and Means and Transportation and Infrastructure committees. The 30-second ads started airing in late August.

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By Eugene Mulero
Staff Reporter

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