Highway bill talks in Congress urgent, but at a standstill

Highway bill talks in Congress urgent, but at a standstill

When it comes to highway funding, everyone agrees on the problem, but no one can agree on the fix. The Transportation Department says the Highway Trust Fund will run out of money in August. The nationês infrastructure got a grade of –D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers in its most recent rating. The gas tax, which traditionally has supplied the Highway Trust Fund with money, has not been raised in 20 years. The American Automobile Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are among those that have called for an increase in the gas tax.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have proposed raising the gas tax by 6 cents a gallon over two years, then indexing it to inflation. They said the measure would raise $164 billion in two years.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, issued a strong warning that the Fund faces a –mayday situation” and said urgent action is needed. She urged passage of the $265 billion transportation bill passed by her committee but Congress would need to find the money to pay for it.

With no agreement on long-term funding, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said he will push for a three-month, $9 billion stopgap measure that would pick up when the current transportation bill ends and fund infrastructure needs until December 31.

The House has looked at various funding options, including one to end Saturday mail delivery, an idea that was pulled for lack of support.

A survey by the AAA found that Americans are willing to pay more for transportation and that they would vote for a member of Congress who supports increased transportation funding. More than half of respondents said they would be willing to pay a higher gas tax.

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