Senate unveils 1,030-page highway bill

Senate unveils 1,030-page highway bill
© Greg Nash

Senate leaders on Tuesday unveiled a mammoth 1,030-page bill to extend federal transportation funding.

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The legislation, which was negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt GOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) and Sens Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats McConnell opens door to vote on Iran war authorization Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions MORE (R-Okla.) and Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list MORE (D-Calif.), is intended to prevent an interruption in the nation's road and transit funding at the end of July. It would extend the funding for at least three years.

The three senators said the agreement "reverses the trend of short-term, temporary fixes to fund the nation’s transportation network.

"The bill is fully offset with spending reductions or changes to federal programs," they said. "It does not increase the deficit or raise taxes." 

Congress has been grappling since 2005 with a transportation funding shortfall that is estimated to be about $16 billion per year. Budget scorekeepers have estimated it will take about $100 billion, in addition to gas tax revenue, to pay for a six-year transportation bill. 

The Senate bill closes the funding gap for three years largely through revenue from reducing interests rates paid by the Federal Reserve to banks, selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and by using fees from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and customs processing.

The proposal calls for generating $16.3 billion from interest rate changes, $9 billion from sales of reserved oil, $4 billion from customs fees, $3.5 billion from the TSA fees and $1.9 billion from extending guarantees on mortgage-backed securities that had been scheduled to start declining in 2021.

Other funding sources in the measure include approximately $7.7 billion in tax compliance measures.

  Senate's 1,030-page highway bill