Six-year highway bill passes Senate committee; no funding

Six-year highway bill passes Senate committee; no funding

A Senate transportation committee approved a six-year highway bill in an effort to fund transportation for the long term, even though Congress has used a series of stopgap measures to fund roads since 2005. The only catch with this measure: No one has come up a way to fund it.

The gas tax has not been raised in more than 20 years, and the Highway Trust Fund funded by that tax has been inadequate for funding infrastructure for many years. The short-term transportation measures have relied on a combination of gas tax revenues (usually about $34 billion) and money transferred from other parts of the budget (about $16 billion).

The current stopgap measure expires July 31, and soon after that the Highway Trust Fund will go broke. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that an extra $100 billion would be needed in addition to gas tax revenue to fund a six-year measure.

Several transportation advocacy groups have pushed for a gas tax increase, and several states have raised their state gas tax. The American Automobile Association advocates an increase in the federal gas tax and supports the Senate bill.

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