House and Senate Drop Highway Trust Fund Fix in Aviation Measure
The House of Representatives Tuesday and the Senate today passed legislation (H.R. 6327) providing a three month extension of the taxes and spending authority for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs but dropped from the bill a provision that would have provided an $8 billion fix for the Highway Trust Fund's (HTF) pending insolvency. This $8 billion in revenue is needed to ensure that there will not be a 34 percent or more reduction in highway funds to states below SAFETEA-LU's authorized funding levels in FY 2009. The HTF provision was dropped from the bill following strong opposition from Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), the Ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the Ranking Republican on the Budget Committee. They announced their opposition to the HTF fix in a joint press release early Tuesday, which quoted Lewis as saying, “This bill just exacerbates our transportation funding problem by using an $8 billion taxpayer-funded band-aid on the terminally ill Highway Trust Fund. We need real reform and practical solutions, not more buck passing.”
In the Senate, leadership has attempted to bring up the aviation extension measure with the same $8 billion HTF fix championed by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), ranking Republican member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.), asking for unanimous consent. Senate Budget Committee Ranking Republican Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), however, has prevented the measure from being considered with the HTF fix. Senator Baucus Monday issued a statement saying that “Highway Trust Fund deficits threaten to derail our infrastructure projects and put our citizens at risk, yet the Senate was stopped today from passing crucial legislation for America's public safety and for folks who desperately need the jobs that highway funds create...Unfounded objections are keeping the Senate from providing a timely, responsible and critical response to the need for highway jobs and safer America's roadways.”
FAA authority expires on June 30 making the extension a priority before Congress leaves town on Friday for the July 4 recess. Authority for the FAA will next expire on September 30.
For more information, contact Karen Bachman at email@example.com or 202-547-4733.
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