As you might have read, the Highway Trust Fund, federally funded by an 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax, starts running out of funds this August. The Highway Trust fund gas tax has not been raised in more than 20 years and the rate of revenue increase has fallen behind as vehicles have become more fuel efficient, creating a $16 billion shortfall.
Agriculture depends on a well maintained road infrastructure to get farm products to market and food distribution to consumers. For a while, it looked as though Congress would punt until the November/December lame duck session to tackle funding, essentially stopping nearly 30% of current active road projects by September. A bipartisan sense of urgency seems to be growing and both the Senate and House are moving bills through their respective committees led by Senate Finance Chairman Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Chairman Camp (R-MI).
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee yielded to Republican demands and have agree to provide $10 billion to keep the highway trust fund (HTF) solvent until into 2015. This is in line with the timeframe of the House Ways and Means Committee. This timeframe will allow time for longer term solutions for HTF to be considered by the new Congress and will remove some of the political partisan jockeying that is skewing policy issues the rest of this year. The House will likely have the legislation on the floor calendar sometime later this week. The Senate has not calendared it yet, but will likely move on it within the week to 10 days. That’s important because the bills have several other differences that must be resolved in a Senate-House Conference Committee, then the Conference Report goes to both chambers for final passage before HTF can be sent to the President to sign , who has indicated he has not hesitation in signing such legislation. There’s barely enough time for all these procedure before the five-week recess begins August 1.
“The National Grange strongly supports the continuation and reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). We support removing the HTF from the federal budget. We oppose any proposal that would change the concept of dedicating all federal motor fuel taxes to the HTF to be used for highway and highway related purposes. The National Grange supports the creation of a Federal Mass Transportation Trust Fund from user tax revenues separate from the HTF and highway user taxes. The National Grange opposes increasing the federal gasoline tax for purposes other than the HTF and reaffirms its position that all funds received from highway fuel taxes be used only for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges. The federal and state governments should not use these funds to balance their budgets or fund other programs. We oppose impounding HTF monies as a means of enforcement of federal laws.”
- Page 267, 2013 Journal of Proceedings
CALL TO ACTION (Please call immediately. July 17 is too late!)
We need you to call your SENATORS and REPRESENTATIVES and urge them to push their leadership for floor action on the HTF short-term financing bill THIS WEEK.
Make sure to tell them it is important to maintain provisions in the bills to fund the HTF into 2015 and ASK THEM TO VOTE IN FAVOR OF THE HIGHWAY TRUST FUND BILL when it comes to the floor.
Remind them that you are calling as a Grange member, an organization whose more than 160,000 members support the continuation and reauthorization of the HTF and would like to stay updated on their action.