Congress Approves Highway Trust Fund Fix

AGC of America reports that by a vote of 79-17 the Senate passed legislation to transfer $7 billion of general fund revenue to the Highway Trust Fund to provide enough revenue to ensure state transportation departments will continue receiving full reimbursements for federal-aid highway projects through September the end of the current federal fiscal year. The House approved the measure last Wednesday by a vote of 363-68. The bill now goes to the President who is expected to sign it.

All members of the Washington State congressional delegation voted in favor of the bill on final passage.

In the Senate several amendments to the bill were defeated. Most significantly an amendment offered by Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) that would have repealed a provision in the SAFETEA-LU law which requires an $8.708 billion rescission of contract authority from the federal-aid highway program effective on September 30 2009. The provision is significant in that it will limit the ability of state DOTs to transfer federal funds between program categories and in some states would actually result in loss of federal funds. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Cal) voiced her support for the Bond amendment but said it should not be included as part of this short term fix. She pledged to include it in authorization legislation later this year. Congress must still take action to extend spending authorization beyond September 30 when SAFETEA-LU expires. That issue will have to be addressed in September following the Congressional recess.