Obama signs $10.8B highway bill

President Obama on Friday signed a $10.8 billion measure that will fund highway and bridge repairs for the next ten months.

The short-term measure, approved by lawmakers last month, is paid for using a budgeting maneuver called pension smoothing, which allows corporations to reduce their contributions to employee retirement plans. By allowing companies to do so, the government can boost tax revenues since companies are no longer eligible for tax deductions.

{mosads}The Highway Trust Fund risked running out of money this month had lawmakers not approved additional funding, endangering thousands of construction projects and jobs.

While the president supported the measure, he also told Congress it “shouldn’t pat itself on the back for averting disaster for a few months, kicking the can down the road for a few months, careening from crisis to crisis when it comes to something as basic as our infrastructure” during a speech last month. 

During a speech earlier this week, Vice President Biden bemoaned that lawmakers had not passed a long-term solution.

“Hell, Congress can’t even decide on a gas tax to keep the highway system going,” Biden said.

Obama did not hold a bill signing ceremony for the measure.

In a statement earlier this week, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that he was “pleased” Congress had avoided immediate insolvency for the transportation fund, but said he was “disappointed” there was not a long-term fix.

“This latest band-aid expires right as the next construction season begins, setting up another crisis next spring,” Foxx said. “So in the coming months, the Department will again be required to prepare cash management procedures in anticipation of repeating the same Highway Trust Fund insolvency crisis. Americans deserve a multi-year transportation bill that provides the certainty that businesses and communities deserve, creates jobs, and makes necessary policy updates to lay the foundation for lasting economic growth.”

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