Congress Attempting Deal on Transportation Bill

03.22.2012
Issues & Policies

Congress is trying to reach a deal on a proposal to revamp how the nation pays for its transportation infrastructure.

Current transportation funding is set to expire on March 31. If that were to happen, road, highway and bridge projects currently in progress could come to an abrupt end.

In a bipartisan vote, however, the U.S. Senate approved a proposal (S. 1813) that would set aside $109 billion over two years for transportation infrastructure.

Now the House must act. Democrats have introduced the Senate’s version, and majority Republicans in the House are exploring other ideas. Speaker Boehner has identified the highway bill as one of his top priorities.

Impact on state

The fate of a potential deal is significant for Connecticut. Like many other states, Connecticut relies heavily on federal dollars for numerous transportation infrastructure projects.

In fact, about half of Connecticut's transportation spending is comprised of federal money. The state’s House delegation is supporting efforts to reach a deal similar to the Senate version.

Tax sources

All but $10 billion of the Senate bill's cost would be funded by the Highway Trust Fund, which draws its revenue from the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gasoline tax and the 24.4 cents-per-gallon federal diesel tax. 

The Senate bill also increases taxes on Individual Retirement Account inheritances, changes certain pension-fund calculations, and diverts federal underground storage tank cleanup dollars.

After the Senate’s passage of S. 1813, business owners, transportation planners, state lawmakers and union officials repeatedly urged House lawmakers to also reach a deal that both sides of the political aisle could support.

If these stakeholders are successful and the House passes a bill similar to the Senate’s version, then a conference committee would be formed to resolve any differences between the two.

Washington politics will determine whether a bill is agreed on and more federal dollars can be released to states for transportation projects.

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