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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
House passes short-term transportation funding measure
The House of Representatives yesterday passed the 34th short-term extension in six years of federal surface transportation funding.
H.R. 3038 would extend funding of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and Mass Transit Account until Dec. 18. The current extension is set to expire July 31. Unless Congress acts, states that are relying on federal money to pay for highway and transit projects would be left without those funds.
Those in favor of extending MAP-21 for another short term said the extension would give Congress more time to approve a long-term surface transportation reauthorization measure.
"This plan gives us our best opportunity to produce and pass a long-term bill to rebuild America's roads, bridges, and other infrastructure this year," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a prepared statement. "This is the right approach, and the Senate should move quickly to adopt this extension—without any unrelated measures—so that we can provide some certainty and get to work on a multiyear plan."
Other representatives called on Congress to stop kicking the can down the road when it comes to funding transportation in a way that enables the industry to plan for long-term infrastructure projects.
"With another short-term extension — the 34th in six years — we are failing to adequately invest in our communities, and the uncertainty for states and local governments is crippling," said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who voted against the measure. "Congress needs to return to regular order, address this problem head on, and find a dedicated, long-term solution to transportation funding."
Congress should increase the federal gas tax to find the extra dollars needed to invest in transportation infrastructure projects across the country, Blumenauer said in a prepared statement.
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.