OAK BROOK, Ill., July 14 -- The Associated Equipment Distributors issued the following industry news:
With the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) expected to go broke in a little over a month, the House and Senate are poised to act to ensure federal surface transportation investment continues well into next spring.
Last week, the House Ways & Means Committee unveiled and quickly approved a $10.8 billion bailout package that would extend the solvency of the HTF through Memorial Day 2015. Approved by voice vote, H.R. 5021, would cover the gap in highway spending through budget gimmicks such as "pension smoothing," transferring funds from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Trust Fund, and extending certain customs duties. The bill is expected to be considered by the full House later this week.
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee also approved its $10.8 billion draft bill, which is similarly funded by "pension smoothing," LUST transfers, and customs duties but which would also closing some tax loopholes. The full Senate is expected to act after the House approves its bill.
Transportation advocates, including AED, are working to enact the short-term patch but also trying to ensure the bill is draft in such a way as force Congress to consider a long-term funding solution for the HTF during the lame duck session after the November elections. One possible scenario being discussed on the Hill is an extension that contains enough money to get the highway program through the winter, but which also includes a provision extending the program's authorization authority only through mid-December.
"The uncertainty surrounding federal surface transportation programs and the Highway Trust Fund's looming collapse are causing enormous consternation for construction equipment distributors and their customers," AED President and CEO Brian McGuire said. "The $41 billion that the federal government invests each year supports more than $2.4 billion in equipment market activity and roughly 4,000 equipment distribution jobs across the United States. The HTF's looming collapse puts those jobs in jeopardy, not to mention hundreds of thousands of others at construction companies, material suppliers, and manufacturers."
"Congress needs to act now to shore up the HTF and set the stage for definitive action on fiscally-responsible, long-term policy solutions this year," McGuire said.
We need your help to tell lawmakers to stop playing political games with infrastructure investment, job creation, and economic growth! The stakes are enormous with $2.4 billion in equipment market activity at risk. To urge your lawmakers to prevent the federal highway program from going broke, click here. (http://aedaction.channeldemocracy.com/connect/write?alert=888)
TNS 24HariCha-140715-30FurigayJane-4796666 30FurigayJane