Reps. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) introduced legislation late yesterday extending federal transport spending on highway and transit programs to the end of the year.
Both Ryan, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Shuster, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have said that spending authority, which is set to expire July 31, needed to be extended through the end of 2015 to give Congress time to develop and pass a long-term spending bill, probably along the lines of six years, while road construction continues through the fall.
The current law, which took effect in July 2012, had been set to expire on Sept. 30, 2014. It has been extended twice since then. Passage of the Ryan-Shuster bill would mark the bill's third extension.
"This country needs a long-term plan to fix our roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, and this bill gives us our best shot at completing one this year," Ryan and Shuster said in a statement.
Federal road and transit projects are funded by excise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. Fuel taxes at the federal level have not been raised since 1993, and there is virtually no chance of any increases this time around.
However, Ryan and Shuster have said they can support proposals to fund highway and transit construction projects through the proceeds from reduced taxes on repatriated profits held overseas by U.S. firms. Three bills, two in the Senate and one in the House, address this issue.