Here’s the update from Metro’s government relations staff:
Highway Trust Fund and Transportation Program Extension Bill is Sent to the President’s Desk
Last night, before the U.S. Senate departed Washington for a five week recess, Senators voted (81-13) to send the House’s bill to fund the Highway Trust Fund and extend authorization and appropriations for highway and transit programs to the President Obama’s desk for his signature. H.R. 5021 extends funding and programs until May 31, 2015. The Senate’s action comes after an attempt earlier this week to amend the House bill. Changes made by the Senate were rejected by the House yesterday and the bill was sent back to the Senate for reconsideration. As a previous White House Statement of Administration Policy expresses, the President supports H.R. 5021 and is expected to sign the legislation later this afternoon.
Transit agencies such as Metro rely on the Highway Trust Fund to provide money for maintenance and capital projects, among other important items. The House and the Senate have been bickering in recent days over how best to continue funding for the Highway Trust Fund without raising the federal gas tax, which was last increased in 1993.
In other words, this is a short-term fix. Here’s a Washington Post editorial published yesterday about the issue of the gas tax.
And how is Congress paying to keep the Trust Fund going? As CBS explains, through pension smoothing, a variety of U.S. Customs user fees and transferring money from a fund devoted to fixing leaking underground storage tanks.