More than 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives Monday sent a letter to Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady, calling for a long-term fix to the Highway Trust Fund.
“The president has made rebuilding our transportation network a priority, and rightfully so,” said U.S. Representative Sam Graves, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways & Transit and the force behind the letter. “But, instead of thinking a one-time, trillion-dollar investment would solve our long-term infrastructure problems, my focus is on making sure we’re being responsible in how we plan for and fund projects in the future.”
The letter included signatures from 119 Republicans.
Although Graves’ subcommittee is responsible for overseeing highway policy in the House, the Ways & Means Committee has jurisdiction over its funding component. All Highway Trust Fund revenue increases since 1982 have come as part of broad-based tax and budget packages, as opposed to surface transportation program reauthorization bills. “As the Committee on Ways and Means continues to work toward a much-need update of the U.S. tax code, you have an opportunity to fix the Highway Trust Fund,” the lawmakers wrote.
With the future of America’s surface transportation network relying on HTF solvency, Graves has made developing a long-term fix to the trust fund a central priority.
“The best thing we can do for this country’s transportation infrastructure is bring long-term certainty to the Highway Trust Fund,” Graves said. “What we need is a modern, sustainable system that keeps revenues flowing so states are able to invest in projects as they come up, not once it’s too late.
“As Washington focuses in on tax and infrastructure reform, we have the perfect opportunity to fix the HTF. The overwhelming support generated on this letter is a critical step in this process, and I look forward to continuing these discussions with Chairman Brady and the rest of his committee.”
The Highway Trust Fund will again be threatened with insolvency in 2020, when the highway bill’s current funding expires.
Some of the funding ideas that have been floated include charging fees based on the number of miles a vehicle travels (a vehicle-mile tax), raising the fuel tax, and increasing existing sales and tires taxes.