Tax-reform plan to fund House highway bill kicked to the curb for now

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said recently that comprehensive international tax reform will not provide the funding for the House highway funding bill, as he had insisted, with progress on the measure remaining slow.

Ryan now is encouraging the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to move forward on surface transportation reauthorization without an international tax-reform component.

A key component of the reform would involve “deemed repatriation,” which taxes U.S. companies’ offshore profits even if the businesses never actually bring the money into the U.S.

The proposal would divide the business community, which unanimously supports a modest user-fee increase to pay for roads and bridges, Ryan said.

However, it would also face stiff opposition from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Ryan said.

The Senate already has passed the DRIVE Act, a six-year authorization providing only three years of funding.

Ryan’s acknowledgment that international tax reform likely won’t serve as the key financing provision for the House’s legislation allows the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to release and mark up its highway bill in the near future without a funding component. The Ways and Means Committee can then decide to provide its own offsets, use the Senate’s pay-fors or a combination of both to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.

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