CBO: House GOP highway bill would bankrupt trust fund

Republicans are pushing back against a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that says the highway bill would bankrupt the nation's trust fund for road projects. 

The CBO report released late Monday night finds that the cost of the $260 billion bill would not be offset by the gas tax paid by motorists and increased revenue the government would enjoy from provisions in the bill that would expand domestic oil-and-gas drilling. 

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It predicts the highway trust fund, which operates off the gas tax, would be $78 billion short after 10 years under the highway bill. 

Republicans argue the CBO is not giving enough credit for money raised through domestic oil drilling, a central part of the GOP plan. 

A House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee aide told The Hill the GOP would ensure that the bill is paid for. 

"CBO did not give as much credit for the energy revenues as they should have," the aide said. "House Republicans are looking at options to address that, but will ensure that this bill is fair, paid for, doesn’t borrow and doesn’t raise taxes. 

The report from CBO could prove critical, since the transportation bill has already come under attack from conservative groups who say it is too expensive. 

Democrats are also using the report to attack the GOP. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) said it showed the GOP transportation plan was "not sustainable." 

“There is no doubt we need to pass a long-term bill that creates certainty, but the only thing this bill does is make certain the Highway Trust Fund will go belly-up even before the end of the bill,” Rahall said in a statement released by his office. 

The CBO reported recently that without a new transportation bill, the highway trust fund could be zeroed out as soon as 2014. Republicans have said their bill would keep the trust fund in the black, but the new CBO report suggests this is incorrect. 

House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office said Tuesday that that they will bring the transportation bill to the floor this week no matter what else is on the schedule.

"Even with the possible addition of floor action on legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for the remainder of the year, we will still consider the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act this week," Boehner and House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said in a statement.

The full CBO report about the House transportation bill can be read here.

—This story was posted at 11:48 a.m. and updated at 1:29 p.m.