H.R. 2353 – Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015
Background: On May 19, 2015, the House passed, 387-35, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015 providing a two-month extension for transportation funding. In the Senate, Majority Leader McConnell started the process to advance a highway bill extension.
Floor Situation: It is anticipated the Senate will vote on the bill by the end of this work period.
Executive Summary: The bill would approve an extension for authorization of transportation funding for two months, through July 31, 2015. The extension would apply to highways, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund. The bill would not require an offset. The Department of Transportation has said that it will be able to provide funding through cash management through late July or early August.
Overview of the Issue
The Highway Trust Fund provides money for transportation programs across the country. The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 authorized approximately $10.8 billion through May 31, 2015.
Congress created the Highway Trust Fund in 1956 to fund surface transportation projects. The fund is comprised of two accounts: the highway account, which funds programs administered by the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Car Safety Administration, and the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration; and the mass transit account, which funds programs through the Federal Transit Administration.
Federal motor fuel taxes – set at 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel – and related truck excise taxes are the major sources of income for the fund.
Considerations on the Bill
On May 31, 2015, authorization for funding the Highway Trust Fund expires. The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 authorized approximately $10.8 billion to extend highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, and other programs through the fund. The costs were offset in various ways, including pension smoothing ($6.4 billion), customs user fees ($3.5 billion), and a transfer from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank ($1 billion) account.
Prior to that, Congress kept the fund solvent primarily with general fund money – transferring $54 billion since 2008. Without an extension, federally backed transportation projects could face funding challenges this summer.
For H.R. 2353, the cost to extend the Highway Trust Fund would not require additional offsets. The Department of Transportation has said that it will be able to provide funding through late July or early August. The House-passed bill provides an authorization through July 31, 2015.
Notable Bill Provisions
Section 1001 – Extension of federal-aid highway programs
Extends the funding of Highway Trust Fund-aided highway programs to July 31, 2015.
Section 1002 – Administrative expenses
Amends section 1002 of the Highway and Transportation Funding Act to change administrative costs to $366,465,753.
Section 1101 – Extension of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highway safety programs
Extends NHTSA highway safety programs to July 31, 2015. Authorizes extension of national priority safety programs, national driver registry, high visibility enforcement program, law enforcement campaigns, and cooperative research.
Section 1102 – Extension of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration programs
Extends Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration programs to July 31, 2015. Authorizes extension of motor carrier safety grants, commercial driver’s license program improvement, border enforcement grants, performance and registration information system, commercial vehicle information systems and networks deployment program, and safety data improvement grants.
Section 1203 – Authorizations for public transportation
Extends public transportation programs to July 31, 2015. Authorizes extension of research, development demonstration and deployment projects, transit cooperative research program, technical assistance and standards developments, and capital investment grants.
Section 2001 – Extension of Highway Trust Fund expenditure authority
Amends MAP-21 to extend the Highway Trust Fund. Extends funding authorized in the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 and inserts the Surface Transportation Extension Act into IRS code. The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 appropriated approximately $7.8 billion to the Highway Account in the Highway Trust Fund; $2 billion to the Mass Transit Account in the Highway Trust Fund; and transferring $1 billion from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund.
The Obama administration has issued a statement supporting the two-month extension.
CBO estimates that H.R. 2353 “would not affect direct spending because the annualized level of spending for the authorized programs is assumed to continue through fiscal year 2015 in CBO’s baseline.” Additionally, CBO states that the bill “would not affect revenues … therefore pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.” CBO also estimates that expenditures “for all of the programs affected by the legislation would be about $10 billion during the 2 month period.”
There are no amendments at this time.
Next Article Previous Article