The Obama camp and the House Camp—both attempted to light a fire under Congress in an attempt to pass a long-term transportation bill on Feb. 26.
Speaking in St. Paul, Minn., President Barack Obama unveiled a four-year, $302 billion bill to help heal the nation’s roads and bridges, while in Washington, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) released details of a proposal that would dedicate $126.5 billion to infrastructure. Both rely on tax code reforms, and although the two sides are far apart in terms of total dollar amount, there appears to be some hope on Capitol Hill that a bill will be passed before MAP-21 expires at the end of September, and hopefully before the Highway Trust Fund runs dry in late summer.
“If Congress doesn’t finish a transportation bill by the end of summer, we could see construction projects stop in their tracks, machines sitting idle, workers off the job,” Obama told a large gathering at St. Paul’s Union Depot. “Roads and bridges should not be a partisan issue.”
Obama’s plan, which would eliminate the gas tax from the transportation-funding equation, would generate revenue from closing corporate loopholes.
Industry associations were praising both plans, but some concerns were raised with Camp’s framework, where revenue for the Highway Trust Fund would come from a provision requiring U.S. companies that operate overseas to "repatriate" profits from these offshore operations at a reduced tax rate. The tax proceeds on the repatriated funds would provide some of the revenue needed to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent, but would not likely be sufficient to fund a six-year reauthorization bill at current levels.
“We’re very concerned about several aspects of the proposal, including LIFO and LKE repeal and longer equipment cost-recovery periods, will negatively impact equipment industry family businesses and equipment users,” said Associated Equipment Distributors President and CEO Brian McGuire. “We’re also disappointed that the committee’s plan doesn’t include the new highway user fees necessary to re-establish the Highway Trust Fund’s long-term solvency.”