The U.S. House has approved a distribution of $521 million in highway funding as part of a larger bill that will align the House and Senate versions of the HIRE (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment) Act passed in March.

The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213) aligns the funding mechanism for highway projects with the ideals represented by both the House and Senate leadership. To pass the HIRE bill in March, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed to pass subsequent bills in the Senate to accommodate the House funding formula. This bill will do that.

“The Senate revisions of the HIRE Act earmarked funding under two major highway discretionary programs – the Project of National and Regional Significance (PNRS) program and the National Corridor Infrastructure Improvement (National Corridor) program – for a small, select group of states,” said Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“Under this distribution, four states received 58% of the funding and 21 states received nothing” he continued. “The treatment of these programs in the Senate revisions of the HIRE Act skewed the highway formula, significantly benefitting four states with a permanent windfall due to these earmarks.”

H.R. 4213 revises the distribution so that each state will receive a share of PNRS and National Corridor funds “equal to that to the greater of that which the state received under the HIRE Act of under H.R. 4213,” Oberstar said.

“Thirty-seven states receive more highway dollars based on the modification to the distribution of highway formula funding included in H.R. 4213,” he added. “This new highway funding will produce thousands of jobs across these states – jobs that are critically important to the construction sector currently suffering from 21.8% unemployment.”

The latest bill will also change HIRE Act funding, which was to be directed primarily to just six of 13 current state highway formula programs, to all 13.