Budget office: Highway fund would need $3B for September extension

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The Highway Trust Fund would need an estimated $3 billion in additional revenue to keep the flow of funding to transportation projects going through Sept. 30, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

That’s the minimum amount of additional revenue the fund, which subsidizes infrastructure projects, would need for future extensions of its spending authority, the CBO said.

The Budget office provided the projections in a letter to Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.  

If Congress decides to extend the fund’s spending authority until Dec. 31, the CBO projects that the fund would need $8 billion in additional revenue — $6 billion for the highway account and $2 billion for the transit account.

Lawmakers could also also pursue a longer-term extension. The CBO estimates that if the fund’s spending authority is extended through May 2021, the cumulative amount of additional revenue it would need would be between $85 billion and $90 billion.

The CBO warned that the projections could vary based on weather-related construction delays, changes in the price of gas and the price and demand for certain construction materials and labor, as well as the responses of state and local governments to federal policies.

The calculations, the CBO said, are based on the assumption that the fund needs a minimum total cash balance of $5 billion.

This comes about a week after the House and Senate approved a two-month extension at the last minute of the fund’s spending authority.

An extension through December could be the most likely option lawmakers to push it past the end of July.