A Congress notorious for kicking the can down the road is scrambling to find ways to keep the streets clear, with the Highway Trust Fund set to run out of money by Aug. 1.
A GOP measure to allocate $10.8 billion passed the House Ways and Means Committee by a voice vote Thursday. The White House threw its support behind the measure Monday, setting the stage for a divisive debate before the full House, the Washington Examiner reported.
“With surface transportation funding running out and hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk later this summer, the administration supports [the House bill],” the White House said in a statement, according to the Examiner.
Despite Obama’s approval, Democrats were hostile to the plan, which relies on a transfer of money and financing from unrelated sources.
“They are talking about a mini bill until next year, to kick the can a little bit, not even down the road but down the path a little bit, instead of embracing what the outside – what the business community, what everybody is saying that we need,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, said last week “Their response is so small, as I said to put us in a rut, rather than on the road to economic growth.”
The measure would expire May 2015, the heart of election season and a notoriously difficult time to pass any meaningful legislation.
A similar bill also passed the Senate Finance Committee Thursday, but it relies on raising more money through tax compliance and a through complicated technique called “pension smoothing.”
The road to a resolution became even bumpier when the Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, two conservative groups, came out strongly against the House bill, The Hill reported.
“The bill would offset the additional spending over the next decade through a series of revenue raisers, budget gimmicks and budget transfers,” the Heritage Action wrote in a blog, complaining that too much money was wasted on overcharges and sources unrelated to transportation, and that the bailout would prove unsustainable.
“If House leaders were serious about fiscal responsibility, they should promote comprehensive reforms,” the Club for Growth added, “or cut spending elsewhere in the budget.”
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