“Today, POTUS will call for extension of the transportation bill which expires 9/30. If not extended, nearly a million will be out of work. Normally, we wouldnt have to worry about this, but the FAA debacle shows we cant assume people wont use it as a chance to drive their agenda”
— Tweet from White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer
President Obama wants Congress to quickly pass an unconditioned extension of the federal gasoline tax, which is set to expire at the end of the government’s fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The federal gas tax has been 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993 and generates more than $32 billion a year that is then mostly passed out to states for road construction and repair. About 15 percent goes to other federal efforts, like subsidizing public transportation or other efforts to discourage driving. The average American motorist pays about $100 a year in the federal tax.
Conservatives in Congress want to cut out the federal middleman and allow states to raise and spend their own road money. Not only would letting states collect the taxes directly reduce the money spent on federal behavioral engineering efforts (bike paths etc.), but would also allow states to avoid federal laws that require union workers be used on highway projects.
House Republicans already made a big change to the way highway dollars are allocated. Before the 2010 “shellacking” the Highway Trust Fund was a slushy spot. Influential appropriators worked hard to get the first spade full of dirt turned over on decades-long projects in their districts because they knew that they could, in essence, obligate the federal government. Then when bills came due, the Trust Fund would have to get a bailout from general revenues in order to complete already authorized projects.
Under the new Boehner rules, big projects have to be accounted for. Start a $10 billion project, budget $10 billion.
Read more here.