The top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday endorsed extending federal transportation funding through the end of the year.

Lawmakers are on the “right path” by considering an $11 billion extension of the Highway Trust Fund because it improves the chances of reaching a long-term deal, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington.

Levin said a two-month bill to patch the funding would “diminish the chances to fund a long-term measure.”

{mosads}House and Senate leaders on Ways and Means and the Finance committees are trying to find a way to shore up the trust fund, which is set to lapse on May 31.

So far, Republicans and Democrats have yet to reach a consensus on how to pay for the $11 billion short-term extension, though Levin suggested that new tax revenue could be a major ingredient.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week said that he would prefer to use revenue from taxing corporate profits overseas to pay for the patch and said his overall goal is to fund infrastructure for six years.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said earlier this week that he intends to consider transportation legislation before Congress leaves for its Memorial Day recess.

The 2012 transportation funding measure, which was extended last summer and expires at the end of May, included approximately $109 billion for two years’ worth of transportation projects.

Transportation advocates have been pushing for a more comprehensive measure that would help states plan projects over the long term.

Both parties have said that taxing overseas corporate profit is a good substitute for raising the federal gas tax, but there is no agreement on whether it should be voluntary or mandatory for companies.

Transportation advocates argue that raising the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993, is the easiest solution, but Ryan has ruled that out.

“We’re not going to raise gas taxes,” he said last week.

Tags Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan

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