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Highway Trust Fund in need of a long-term fix


Over the past few years, the American people have made clear their desire to see our transportation infrastructure rebuilt, repaired and redesigned. With that mandate, it’s on Congress to act.

President Trump has talked at length about a $1 trillion bill to invest in our infrastructure. And a well-designed, comprehensive transportation bill would be a huge win for this country, allowing us to begin modernizing our entire network of roads, bridges and transit systems.

{mosads}But, as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee andchairman of its Subcommittee on Highways & Transit, my focus is on making sure we’re responsible in how we pay for transportation projects like this in the future. This is obviously nowhere near as simple as thinking we can throw $1 trillion at our infrastructure and then declare the problem solved. It isn’t solved then, because we’ll be right back here whenever that money is spent and whenever those projects are outdated. And that will happen.

What we need is a modern, sustainable Highway Trust Fund (HTF) that keeps revenues flowing to states and local partners so they have certainty when planning long-term investments. That certainty has been lacking for decades.

States shouldn’t have to wait until things are in such bad shape that they need the federal government to come up with $1 trillion to solve their problems.

That’s why fixing the HTF – returning it to true, user-funded, self-sufficient system – is the most tangible thing we can do to help Americans and get our transportation network moving into the 21st century. And it’s one of the most important things we can do to help transition our infrastructure into the future as part of the T&I Committee’s Building21 agenda.

But this is a long-term problem, and it’s not going to be solved with a short-term, one time fix.

Earlier this month, myself, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), and 251 of our colleagues in the House joined to send a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) expressing the bipartisan support for a long-term fix to the HTF in any upcoming tax reform package. The responsibility for finding that solution, however, extends well beyond Brady’s committee.

As Congress continues discussions on tax reform and an infrastructure package, the Highways & Transit Subcommittee will be working hand-in-hand with the Trump administration, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, leadership in the House, and other congressional committees to find responsible options for addressing the long-term problems facing the Trust Fund.

There are various proposals that we’re evaluating to determine which option, or mix of options, would give us the best chance to successfully manage the HTF going forward.

It will take creativity, compromise, and hard work, but that can be said for every sustainable solution to our nation’s most pressing problems. Goods and people moving keep our economy growing. But that cannot continue if our roads crumble, bridges age and our highway system falls behind the rest of the world.

We need a fix to the Highway Trust Fund to solve those problems. And I intend to lead the effort to find it.

Rep. Sam Graves represents Missouri 6th District, which spans across 36 counties from the Missouri to Mississippi Rivers. Graves is currently the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways & Transit. 

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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