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
The Retailer’s Atlas for Omnichannel Returns
Fueled by e-commerce, the new state of retail is truly an omnichannel one, and companies will flourish or flounder based on how well their supply chain can meet customer expectations.
Download Today!
From the November 2017 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
An inside look at how a large pharmaceutical firm transformed its vendor and supplier relationships into true, collaborative partnerships—and greatly strengthened its logistics and supply chain operations in the process.
34th Annual Quest for Quality Awards: 2017 Awards Dinner
Trucking Regulations: Washington U-Turns; States put hammer down
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Logistics Showcase: Rising to the same-day delivery challenge
Today’s delivery puzzles are very different than traditional DC to store or warehouse to DC puzzles. It’s not just the shorter time frame for delivery; the basic requirements are significantly different and more complex as well. In this session you'll learn how to address same day delivery challenges while also driving down costs and increasing customer satisfaction.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2017 NASSTRAC Shipper of the Year: Mallinckrodt; Mastering and managing complexity
An inside look at how a large pharmaceutical firm transformed its vendor and supplier relationships...
2017 Alliance Awards: Recognizing outstanding supply chain partnerships
In an era where effective supply chain collaboration is both highly valued and elusive, Logistics...

26th Annual Study of Logistics and Transportation Trends: Transportation at Digital Speed
While a majority of companies strongly agree that transportation is a strategically important...
34th Annual Quest for Quality Awards: Winners Revealed
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers, and North American ports have crossed the service...