Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduces Long-Term Solution to Address Highway Trust Fund (April 16, 2015)

Reps. Dan Lipinski (IL-03), Jim Renacci (OH-16), Bill Pascrell (NJ-9), and Reid Ribble (WI-08) today led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act.  This legislation provides a long-term solution to ensure the Highway Trust Fund, which will run out of money in less than 50 days, is sustainable.

Maintenance of our national highway system falls jointly on the states and the federal government, with about 80 percent of highway funding coming from the federally administered Highway Trust Fund.  Currently, the trust fund allocates about $50 billion annually to the states for upkeep of the system.  This annual allotment has two major problems: we are spending about $16 billion more annually than the trust fund is bringing in, and we are not spending enough to keep our infrastructure from crumbling.

The funding situation for the Highway Trust Fund became dire last year when Congress was forced to act to temporarily infuse the fund with money from sources that have nothing to do with roads and bridges.  This temporary infusion simply kicks the can down the road, only sustaining the fund until the end of May, when Congress will again have to act to ensure it remains solvent.  If left unaddressed, the Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of funding this summer, right during the heart of construction season.  This uncertainty makes it difficult to plan for future projects and a shortfall in the fund has the potential to disrupt current projects.  Our economy depends on an adequate infrastructure system – it is that simple.

The Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act allows all transportation funding proposals to be considered, while simultaneously ensuring the trust fund remains solvent for no less than 10 years.  In order to sustain the trust fund in the near-term, the legislation indexes the gas and diesel user fees to inflation - raising roughly $27.5 billion and providing funding for our infrastructure needs for 1.7 years.  In order to help reach a truly long-term funding solution, this legislation would create a bipartisan, bicameral Transportation Commission no later than September 1, 2015.  This group would be charged with determining a path forward for sustainable funding, and would be advised to consider all options.  Unfortunately, because Congress rarely acts without an “action forcing event,” Congress will be required to enact the recommendations of the commission, or any other funding mechanism that achieves at least three years of funding for the Highway Trust Fund, by December 31, 2016.  If Congress fails to achieve at least three years of funding by this time, the gas and diesel user fees will increase to a level that would sustain the trust fund for a three-year period.  Congress will again have the opportunity to get serious about funding our infrastructure during that time.  If Congress fails again to implement long-term funding solutions, then the gas and diesel user fees would increase to meet the next five-year Highway Trust Fund shortfall, guaranteeing ten years of funding.

Lipinski, Renacci, Pascrell, and Ribble stated: “We refuse to pass on the liability of our deteriorating roads and bridges to our children and grandchildren.  The longer we wait to fix our crumbling infrastructure, the more it will cost in the long-run.  We need to act now to fix the broken system.  The users of our roads, workers, and state and local governments need the certainty that adequate and timely transportation program reauthorizations and funding provide.  The Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act allows for the consideration of all viable options so that Congress can get serious about finding a long-term, sustainable solution for the Highway Trust Fund.  It is our sincere hope that our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support this important legislation so that the burden of our failing infrastructure isn’t passed on to the next generation.”

Janet F. Kavinoky, vice president of the Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition and executive director of Transportation & Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,stated, “It is exciting to see the bold leadership of Congressmen Lipinski, Renacci, Pascrell, and Ribble.  Last year when Congress was considering yet another extension, they made clear that it was time to solve the problem of long-term funding for the Highway Trust Fund and stop the short-term patches that are so damaging to the economy, to business, and to the transportation system.  The Chamber applauds this bipartisan group of lawmakers for stepping up and offering a solution.  It is time for Congress to pass a fully-funded, long-term bill to make our roads and transit systems faster, better and safer, and this proposal is a way to get there.”

Robert Darbelnet, CEO of AAA, stated, “Since 2008 Congress has failed to address the long-term health of our transportation system and has instead settled for short-term patches that avoid the underlying funding issue and leave our roads and bridges to crumble.  This bill ensures Congress won't be able to let itself off the hook again, and will finally be required to address the issue of paying for infrastructure in a pragmatic, immediate and sustainable fashion."

Dave Osiecki, executive vice president of the American Trucking Association,stated, "Congress should avoid passing short-term extensions that are, today, putting people out of work and forcing states to cancel or delay critical projects necessary to save lives and address system maintenance and congestion needs.  We are grateful for the leadership of Reps. Lipinski, Renacci, Pascrell, and Ribble on this very serious issue and hope all Members of Congress will follow their example by supporting a long-term fix to the crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund."

Shane Skelton, executive director of the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure, stated, “This Bill begins an important dialogue, and certainly provides the funding needed to maintain our highways and transit systems in the immediate term, and provides some funding certainty to states and builders into the future.  It also creates the foundation, and an incentive structure, for Congress and the Administration to work together to a find more sustainable long-term solution.  Developing a solution for the short-term, while also keeping long-term goals in sight, exemplifies the type of leadership and action needed to take on this issue.”

Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, stated,“The steel industry commends Congressman Renacci and the bipartisan group of cosponsors for their commitment to shore up the Highway Trust Fund.  Their creative approach will help Congress take steps towards identifying a long-term funding solution that will provide critical increased investment in our nation’s infrastructure.  Questions about how to finance the Highway Trust Fund have been the big obstacle to ensuring a sustainable surface transportation bill.  This legislation will help Members of Congress confront the funding issue directly and put pressure on them to figure out a solution once and for all.”

Robert D. Stevens, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers,stated, “The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the effort of Representatives Lipinski, Renacci, Pascrell, Ribble, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to address the federal Highway Trust Fund’s fiscal shortfalls that loom as far as the eye can see.  Two key elements of the proposal, indexing the current federal motor fuels tax rate to inflation and utilizing highway user-fees to continue to pay for surface transportation, are common sense funding solutions.  ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which gave America’s infrastructure an overall grade of D+, underscores the need to fix the Highway Trust Fund.  As stewards of the nation’s infrastructure we are grateful to the Representatives for their commitment to improving America’s transportation system.”  

Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America,stated, “This legislation shows that some in Congress are willing to take on challenging issues that are vital to our continued economic growth.  The measure represents an important first step to resolving the funding challenges that have repeatedly threatened highway construction projects across the country for years now.”   

Michael Melaniphy, president & CEO of the American Public Transportation Association, stated, “APTA urges Congress to enact a bill that increases dedicated revenues for the Highway Trust Fund, and the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act is an effective way to increase dedicated revenues for the Highway Trust Fund by immediately indexing federal motor fuel taxes and mandating increases that would support current program levels if Congress could not find an alternative source of dedicated revenues going into the Highway Trust Fund.  APTA strongly supports efforts to increase the dedicated revenues that finance necessary investment in our transportation infrastructure and we commend Reps. Lipinski, Renacci, Pascrell, and Ribble for their leadership on this issue.”

David A. Raymond, President and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies, stated, “ACEC strongly supports the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act.  We commend the bipartisan group of lawmakers for their leadership in finding a long-term funding solution to provide certainty for federal transportation programs.”

Roger Wentz, president and CEO of the American Traffic Safety Services Association, stated, “The future of American infrastructure investment is in jeopardy.  Without a funding solution for the Highway Trust Fund, road projects nationwide will come to a halt, as we are seeing in some states already.  Additionally, life-saving roadway safety infrastructure projects are being put at risk by this lack of funding – projects that have proven year after to year to dramatically reduce fatalities.  ATSSA commends Reps. Dan Lipinski, Jim Renacci, Bill Pascrell, and Reid Ribble on their leadership and commitment to finding a solution to sustain the Highway Trust Fund through the introduction of the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act.  The more Congress delays on enacting a long-term highway bill with a sustainable Highway Trust Fund, the more men’s, women’s and children’s lives will be in danger on America’s roadways.  Our members know how to bring them home safely, if Congress would only provide the funding to do so.”

The following organizations support the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • American Trucking Association (ATA)
  • Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
  • American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA)
  • Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)
  • American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)
  • Associated General Contractors (AGC)
  • AAA
  • Highway Users Alliance
  • American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)
  • National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA)
  • American Traffic Safety Services Association
  • Associated Equipment Distributors (AED)
  • National Sand, Stone, and Gravel Association (NSSGA)
  • Portland Cement
  • International Union of Operating Engineers
  • Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
  • Mayor Jackson – Cleveland, OH
  • Mayor Byrne – City of Parma Heights, OH
  • Mayor Bobst – Rocky River, OH
  • Mayor Stefanik – North Royalton, OH 

The following members are cosponsors of the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act:

  • Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)
  • Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI)
  • Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-NJ)
  • Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)
  • Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA)
  • Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA)
  • Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL)
  • Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA)
  • Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ)
  • Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
  • Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA)
  • Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
  • Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
  • Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA)
  • Rep. John Larson (D-CT)
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  • Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)