July 30, 2014 5:10 PM, EDT

Sen. Corker Urges House GOP to Back Senate Trust Fund Proposal

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on July 30 called on the Republican-led House to back a bill that would temporarily shore up a federal highway account that the Senate overwhelmingly supported a day earlier.

“Wouldn’t it be great to finish 2014 actually solving one issue; taking one issue off the plate next year. People say, well, there’s not enough time. Well, how many new ideas are there relative to the highway trust? How many new ideas are there? There are not many,” Corker said, speaking at a forum hosted by The Wall Street Journal.

 Later that day, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) also called on House leaders to consider the Senate-passed bill.

On July 29, the Senate voted 79-18 to send the House legislation that would approve about $8 billion to fund federal highway construction programs through December. Corker supported the measure, which is meant to force lawmakers to agree on a long-term transportation funding plan after the midterm elections.

But the Senate bill lacks the support of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who indicated he would call on his caucus to reject the Senate measure. The Speaker said he would schedule a vote again on an $11 billion bill that would keep the cash-strapped Highway Trust Fund solvent through May. Earlier this year, the House passed its trust fund legislation 367-55. 

Boehner has yet to announce when he plans to proceed. Senior House aides told Transport Topics the chamber could vote on the 10-month patch July 31.DOT has projected the trust fund will dip below critical funding levels in August, a scenario that would force states to cut back or halt construction projects that often benefit the trucking industry.