Facing imminent insolvency as Congress prepared to adjourn for a five-week recess, the Senate and House finally reached a short-term agreement to provide $10.8 billion to fund and reauthorize the Highway Trust Fund through next May. With the Department of Transportation set to begin cutting payments to states the next day, the Senate approved H.R. 5021 on July 31st by a vote of 81-13 bringing to an end a showdown between the two chambers. The Senate had initially passed a different version of the bill that would have extended funding only through December 19th, forcing serious debate about a long-term authorization. This effort ultimately failed as the House would not accept the alternate version. NSPE members played an important role as hundreds of members reached out to their elected officials to underscore the tremendous threat insolvency would pose to the public health, safety and welfare and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that would be put at risk. NSPE appreciates that Congress has avoided a major transportation crisis at this time, but recognizes that short-term patches are not the solution. For infrastructure to thrive, a long-term commitment in the form of a six-year authorization needs to be enacted. NSPE hopes that Congress will take this time to develop a meaningful solution to our mounting infrastructure needs.
Read more about this topic in an article published in the July 2014 edition of PE magazine: The Future of the Highway Trust Fund.