Congressional action needed on highway fund before expiration

Billions of dollars are at stake should Congress fail to replenish the Highway Trust Find by July 31, but House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-W) said he is optimistic that an extension is inevitable.

A year-end extension would require approximately $8 billion and a six-year bill would require approximately $90 billion in new revenues considering the infrastructure fund is nearing dangerous revenue levels, Ryan and other lawmakers said. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) broke from his caucus by supporting Ryan’s push for a short-term extension and finding additional revenues as part of an international tax code rewrite. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is also backing Schumer’s plan.

On the other side is U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other Democrats who are unified in their opposition to approving another short-term continuation. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is building support for pursuing at least an 18-month bill with revenues comprised from a smattering of different offsets, none of which include a user fee increase.

The Senate is expected to move to consider a highway bill, but whether that’s the Environment & Public Works Committee’s DRIVE Act or another legislative vehicle is unclear.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx hinted at a veto of a short-term extension, although the Obama administration also indicated support of a temporary measure to give Congress the time to revamp the international tax code to fund a multi-year highway bill.