Congress is slowly chipping away at a long-term highway bill, and the latest action could affect the way some states chip in.
The House passed a motion—259-154—on June 6 asking to accept language in the Senate highway bill calling for doner states to get at least 95% of the gas-tax money instead of the current minimum of 92%. Another motion to instruct supported another section of the Senate measure that would raise $1 billion by taking tougher actions against offshore tax havens. The motion, however, was defeated by a 226-192 count.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) led the move to increase the funding minimum to 95%.
“It’s been the history of disparity by which a number of states have received less back in funding that they have invested in the Highway Trust Fund through the gas tax,” he said.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), however, countered by saying the states already receive enough in federal funding.
“For several years, general-fund revenue has been filling the gap between what the Highway Trust Fund can support and current funding levels,” he said. “So now, every state gets back more from the program than the amount of gas taxes collected in that state. In effect, every state is a donee state.”
There is no guarantee that Flake’s successful motion will be part of the final highway bill. The current extension expires later this month, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) believes another extension may be on the horizon.