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
Case Study: LEAN Yields Big Results
Every day, companies across a wide range of industries use LEAN in their supply chains, warehouses and distribution centers, finance departments, and customer service centers, among other areas. LEAN practices improve safety, quality, and productivity by extracting cost and waste from all facets of an operation – from the procurement of raw materials to the shipment of finished goods.
Download Today!
From the October 2016 Issue
Over the past decade we’ve seen a major trend in regards to safety regulations for freight transport within the United States as well as for import and export shippers—that trend is the “international­ization” of rules and regulations.
European Logistics Update: Post-Brexit U.K. moving ahead, but in which direction?
Badcock Home Furniture &more: Out with paper, in with Cloud TMS
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
How API Technology Connects the Transportation Economy
Dynamic decision making is made possible through accurate, actionable data. When combined with progress in data science and the Internet of Things, technology companies that add value to direct-to-carrier APIs and combine them with high-power data analytics will create new concepts for the information economy.
Register Today!
Motor Carrier Regulations Update: Caught in a Trap
The fed is hitting truckers with a barrage of costly regulations in an era of scant profits....
25th Annual Masters of Logistics
Indecision revolving around three complex supply chain elements—transportation, technology and...

2016 Quest for Quality: Winners Take the Spotlight
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers and U.S. ports have crossed the service-excellence...
Regional ports concentrate on growth and connectivity
With the Panama Canal expansion complete, ocean cargo gateways in the Caribbean are investing to...