The House of Representatives passed a two-month extension of federal transportation funding, delivering a victory to Democrats who have long preferred a shorter extension. The
Measure is intended to prevent an interruption in the nation’s infrastructure funding that is currently scheduled to begin on May 31. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is also moving forward with a two-month extension, and is fast-tracking the bill to the Senate floor.
Republican leaders in the House had previously sought to pass an extension of the funding that would last until the end of the year, but they struggled to come up with the approximately $10 billion it would take to pay for a measure that lasts that long. Democrats have said they prefer a shorter extension that lasts just until the end of the summer because Obama administration officials have said the Department of Transportation already has enough money to cover two months’ worth of extra infrastructure spending left in its Highway Trust Fund. They argue that the shorter extension would force Congress back to the negotiating table before the August recess to craft a longer transportation funding bill.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that it will take about $100 billion to pay for a six-year transportation bill that is being sought by infrastructure advocates. Senator Cory Gardner recently signed on as a co-sponsor of the 2015 Invest in Infrastructure Act also known as the “Boxer-Paul Repatriation bill,” a separate attempt to fund transportation. Unfortunately that bill is not a quick solution either. Some members of Congress want to tie repatriation to tax reform, a subject that is the focus on multiple working groups at the Capitol. Observers say tax reform is a long-term effort that could take as long as 10 years.