Foxx to speak at White House press briefing

Anne Wernikoff

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will attend Monday's White House press briefing as the Obama administration continues to push for a new $302 billion transportation funding bill.

The Department of Transportation said Foxx will be speaking with reporters before White House press secretary Jay Carney holds his regular question-and-answer session with reporters.

The appearance will be Foxx's first before the White House Press Corps.

The debut comes as lawmakers in the Senate are scheduled to introduce their version of the transportation funding bill on Monday.

The Obama administration is pressuring lawmakers to approve a new transportation spending bill before a bankruptcy takes place in the trust fund that is used to pay for federal road and transit projects — projected to occur at the end of this summer.

The current transportation funding measure, known as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said that the Department of Transportation's Highway Trust Fund will run out of money as early as August without quick congressional action.

The transportation trust fund is usually filled with revenue that is collected from the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax. The gas tax has not been increased since 1993 however, and receipts are being outpaced by infrastructure expenses by an estimated $20 billion per year now.

The gas tax typically brings in about $34 billion per year, but the current transportation bill contained more than $54 billion in road and transit spending before the 2013 sequester budget cuts were factored in.

Even with the sequester in place, the current transportation bill spends more than $50 billion on infrastructure projects.

The CBO has projected that lawmakers will have to approve $100 billion in addition to the gas tax revenue to provide enough money to approve a six-year transportation bill this year.

The current transportation bill that is expiring in the fall was passed in 2012. The measure included only enough money for about 18 months of road and transit spending.

Transportation advocates have pushed for longer appropriation bill because they say state and local governments need more certainty of federal funding to complete large infrastructure projects that often take multiple years to construct.

President Obama has proposed that lawmakers use approximately $150 billion from a corporate tax reform proposal, considered unlikely to be approved, to help close the transportation funding gap.

Some Democrats have pushed to increase the gas tax to approximately 33 cents per gallon, arguing that the fuel levy would be near that amount now if it had been indexed to inflation when it was last hiked in 1993.

Republicans — and the Obama administration — have opposed the idea of increasing the amount of money drivers have to pay at the pump when they fill up their gas tanks in an election year.