Highways, Bridges and Roads

GOP Reps. Dold, Biggert, Bass call for House to pass Senate highway bill

{mosads}”With no indication that an alternative longer-term bill will be brought to the House floor by March 31, 2012, we urge the House to reconcile any potential blue slip procedural issues and take up the House version of S. 1813, the Mobility, Access and Progress for the 21st Century [Act].”

The letter was released Monday by Blumenauer’s office in an attempt by Democrats to continue pressuring Republicans to pass the Senate’s version of the highway bill.

The Senate passed its transportation bill, a two-year, $109 billion measure, on a bipartisan vote earlier this month. Democrats in the House tried last week to add the measure to an unrelated healthcare bill, but the attempt was defeated by Republicans in the lower chamber on a procedural vote.

Republicans argue that they are passing a short-term version of the transportation bill to give themselves more time to create a version of their proposal for a multi-year bill that can be passed by the House. Boehner had pushed for a five-year, $260 billion that he planned to pay for with legislation increasing domestic oil drilling, but he was unable to win support for the measure within his Republican caucus.

Democrats argue that passing a short-term extension without addressing a shortfall in revenue brought into the Highway Trust Fund from the federal gas tax would accelerate a bankruptcy in the transportation fund.

The Senate’s version of the transportation bill and the House’s original version of the measure extend the government’s authorization to collect the gas tax. But both measures spend more than $50 billion per year on transportation projects, and the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax only brings in about $36 billion per year.

If lawmakers do not reach an agreement on at least a temporary extension by the end of the week, the gas tax would stop being collected on March 31.

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