Today, the House Ways and Means Committee approved without change– except for fixing a typographical error– legislation (H.R. 5021) that would extend the authorization and financing for surface-transportation programs through May 31, 2015.
Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) introduced the bill, which also authorizes funding for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), on June 8.
The only proposed amendment would have shortened the duration of extension to Dec. 31. But that measure, sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), was defeated on a partisan vote.
Legislation under consideration in the Senate would extend highway funding only through Dec. 31. That opens the possibility of a broader bill– including a potential fuel-tax increase– coming up during the lame-duck session after the election.
Under H.R. 5021, the next Congress would consider the next highway bill, and many observers expect the Republicans to be in control of the Senate.
Although the Ways and Means action covers the financing of highway programs, five other committees still must sign off on certain aspects of the legislation. The committee overseeing the provisions of most interest to trucking is the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) is a co-sponsor of the bill.
“We have an immediate, critical need to address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and extend the current surface transportation law,” Rep. Shuster said today.
“By funding surface transportation programs through May 2015, this legislation provides certainty and stability for states,” Shuster added, “while also providing Congress time to continue working on a long-term funding solution and a surface transportation reauthorization bill.”
Echoing comments by Rep. Camp, Shuster also argued that a shorter extension “would guarantee a manufactured crisis in December when some might be inclined to play politics with these issues or use them as vehicles for unrelated policies that should be