House Republicans vote may impact federal transit funding process

A vote by House Republicans yesterday has the potential to significantly change how funding for federal highway and transit programs is distributed and allocated.

By ·

A vote by House Republicans yesterday has the potential to significantly change how funding for federal highway and transit programs is distributed and allocated.

This vote dictates that the minimum guaranteed annual spending level for federal transportation will no longer apply. What’s more, the current allocated spending levels allocated for federal highway and transit programs are more than its main funding source, the Highway Trust Fund, can actually pay out.

Under the current House rule Highway Trust Fund revenues, which are derived from the federal gasoline tax, are used for annual highway and transit programs. And a December 28 letter from more than 20 transportation concerns to members of House leadership points out that prior to the adoption of this rule in 1988, it was common for Congress “to engage in a shell game by reducing Highway Trust Fund spending so that spending elsewhere could be increased. The letter added that as a result of these abuses, the balances in the trust fund soared, while much-needed infrastructure investment was deferred.

Other ramifications of this vote, according to the letter, cite the need for federal highway and transit programs to be stable and predictable and to allow states to maximize efficiency and public benefit in delivering transportation improvements.

And it added that it would sever the user-financed basis of the Highway Trust Fund, and make annual federal highway and transit investments subject to the whims of the appropriations process.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Executive Director John Horsley said in a statement that this vote is likely to have a negative impact on transportation funding.

“We are disappointed that House Republicans voted to rescind a guarantee that Highway Trust Fund revenues would be spent to fund the critical highway and transit programs that millions of Americans rely on everyday,” said Horsley. “There are two deficits facing the country today – the federal debt and the deficit in maintaining the infrastructure on which economic recovery depends. In their zeal to address the first issue, the new House leadership has taken action that deepens the second.”

In a recent interview with LM, Leslie Blakey, executive director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, said that if this vote becomes official it could fundamentally dismantle a process that has been in been place for roughly 20 years.

This comes on top of a recently-enacted continuing resolution for federal highway and transit funding, which was voted on by Congress during the final days of the 111th Congress. This continuing resolution is the latest in a series and have kept transportation spending afloat since SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) expired on September 30, 2009.

While continuing resolutions have served as a stop gap to sustain funding at current levels, there is no clear indication a new bill will come to fruition in the future.

“It is an important philosophical change if they vote to strike this rule,” said Blakey. “Another extension of spending [highlights] that we don’t have a direction for transportation programs right now. Taking this rule out of the program is potentially the dismantling of what we have had in existence right now for nearly 20 years in the way in which we address and fund our transportation programs. If a new highway bill is not on track by May or June, then it may not happen until after the 2012 Presidential election.”


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Identify Cost Savings with Real-Time Visibility
To offset the impact of late shipments, unreported delays and detention, shippers are increasingly requiring 100 percent visibility into the location and status of their freight.
Download Today!
From the August 2017 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers, and North American ports have crossed the service excellence finish line ahead of their competitors? Our readers have cast their votes, and now it’s time to introduce this year’s winners of the coveted Quest for Quality Awards.
BMW Takes the Inland Road to Efficiency
Global Logistics: No Shortcuts to Security
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Getting the most out of your 3PL relationship
Join Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, as he explains how creating a balanced portfolio of "Top 50" global and domestic partners can maximize efficiency and mitigate risk.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
34th Annual Quest for Quality Awards: Winners Revealed
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers, and North American ports have crossed the service...
2017 Top 50 3PLs: Investment and Consolidation Maintain Traction
The trend set over the past few years for mergers and acquisitions has hardly subsided, and a fresh...

2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...