If all of us know one thing for sure, our highways are in poor shape. Cracks, craters and bare spots populate areas all over country’s roads. A vote in the House could happen by the end of the week, sources in the meeting said — a preemptive strike designed to deter the Senate from sending over its own highway bill with a provision to renew the expired Export-Import Bank.
Conservatives oppose the bank, which finances foreign investments for U.S. companies. And they fear that the 80-year-old institution would get revived if it comes to the House floor attached to a must-pass Senate highway bill.
Lawmakers are grappling with an infrastructure funding shortfall that is estimated to be about $16 billion per year, and they have not passed a transportation bill that lasts longer than two years in that span.
The 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax has been the main source of transportation funding for decades, but it has not been increased since 1993, and more fuel-efficient cars have sapped its buying power.
The federal government typically spends about $50 billion per year on transportation projects, but the gas tax only brings in approximately $34 billion annually.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated it will take about $100 billion, in addition to the gas tax revenue, to pay for a six-year transportation funding bill like the one President Obama is proposing.
Lawmakers have turned to other areas of the federal budget to close the transportation funding gap in recent years, resulting in temporary fixes that critics have complained are preventing state and local governments from completing badly needed construction projects.
As usual there is expected to be heavy debate on the bill.