July 16th, 2014
01:44 PM ET
2 weeks ago

Senate Democrats to back House highway bill

The highway funding crisis is about to end. (For now.)

Senate Democratic leaders have agreed to pass a nearly $11 billion House measure that would extend the life of the Highway Trust Fund through next spring, CNN has learned.

Two top Senate Democratic leadership sources said the plan is for the Senate to vote on the issue early next week.

The chamber will first vote on alternate proposals from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D- California, and the Senate Finance Committee, led by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. But both of those are expected to fail.

Then, the sources said, the Senate will vote on the stop-gap highway funding bill that passed the House on Tuesday by an overwhelming 367-55 margin.

Multiple Democratic and Republican sources said the House bill is expected to also get strong bipartisan support in the Senate.

Some, including a few prominent Democrats, have criticized the House bill because it relies on funding from something called “pension smoothing.” That allows companies to contribute less to their traditional employee pension funds, reducing their tax break and increasing tax revenues for the government.

The competing Senate highway bill also includes pension smoothing, but to a smaller degree.

The Highway Trust Fund is set to hit a critical low point around August 1.

Without more money from Congress, states across the country have said they would have to start shutting down and delaying hundreds of road and bridge construction projects.

The trust fund is stocked by gas tax receipts, but those have been falling over the years for a number of reasons, including higher gas prices and more fuel efficient cars.

And Congress previously has stepped in to supplement the trust fund balance with general tax revenues.

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Matthew J Shochat

    Reblogged this on The Progressive Democrat.

    July 16, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. morebs

    can you say election time. like I said once before this country might function better if elections were held every year. then maybe these so called leaders will actually do something for the sake of the country

    July 16, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. guest

    well it means corporations will be giving less money to the workers that make the corporations, of course it passed the house.

    July 16, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    All that the Republicans did was to punt the ball six months down the road, until after the elections and the new Congress has time to settled into their trenches again.

    July 16, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. Bill from GA

    The stop-gap highway funding bill is probably the best we can expect from this worthless Congress. If they put too much in infrastructure, our economy might improve faster and make the Prez look good.

    One year (of funding) at a time. Kinda hard to plan highways like that.

    I bet the Chinese are laughing their butts off at us and our dysfunctional government.

    July 16, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    To all Economic Repubs.: Is this any way to run a $Trillion Business ?

    July 16, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  7. OBAMA - THE OPEN BORDERS PRESIDENT

    Sounds good – safe bet. Its not often you see anything sent from the House to the Senate even brought to a vote so that would be refreshing.

    July 16, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Bipartisanship seems to always peak it's nose in during an election year. We shouldn't be overjoyed for Congress doing the job they were elected to do. What's up with immigration reform or a JOBS bill?

    July 16, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  9. bill

    What happend to our shovel ready jobs? Oh they were not as shovel ready as we thought. Berry Obama. Another trillon down the drain.

    July 16, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    OBAMA – THE OPEN BORDERS PRESIDENT

    Sounds good – safe bet. Its not often you see anything sent from the House to the Senate even brought to a vote so that would be refreshing.
    ---------------------------
    Yeah, that's because they forgot to insert a "repeal the ACA" amendment in it. Those get filibustered by a Democrat.

    July 16, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Bipartisanship seems to always peak it's nose in during an election year. "

    Well, that and who really wants to be the guy who voted no who finds himself having to explain why a bridge fell on some folks? The GOP/Teatrolls would be happy to fund these things as long as they could do something to prevent any union labor from being involved ever, but they really can't right now and the deadline was looming.

    July 16, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. TomInRochNY

    Time to raise the gas tax. It hasn't been raised in over twenty years.

    July 16, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein

    I would like my roads paved and bridges not to fall down. What is so hard about getting money to do that? I do a fair amount of driving and think that the gasoline tax should be raised. It should also be that 1% of profits from oil companies should be used to pay for all road and bridge projects. I don't think that is so far out of line.

    July 16, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  14. George

    You would think by the comments that reps are the only ones kicking the can down the road and spending money we borrowed. Wake up deems and take responsibility for something.

    July 16, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  15. tom l

    "As far as names go there's "tom l" and "Tom L" for starters. "

    ========

    I would think someone as intelligent as you would know that obviously those 2 names are the same person. Wouldn't I come up with different names if I was trying to multiple posts? And as far as why they are different (but the same), one is from my cell phone and the other is from my laptop. Pretty simple explanation. For a guy who says that people are crazy on the right for having conspiracy theories you sure are embracing one right here.

    And Lynda, how else am I supposed to respond? Did you not throw our multiple insults at me on several occasions just over the past 2 days? And wasn't one of those related to age and the other related to how one acts? My goodness. So I guess what's good for the goose is NOT good for the gander. You shouldn't insult me on multiple occasions if you're not going to expect it to come back and as far as the "passive aggressive" line, it's not an insult, it's an observation.

    July 16, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  16. Chris..E.al

    It seems to me the leftist have thinned on this site and the one.s that remain seem kinder and gentler than in the past . Could it be sinking in ? Maybe ? Sweet baby Jesus :)

    July 16, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. salty dog

    Ah the gop simply couldn't sign a bill unless it harms the middle class at least a little.

    July 16, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. ProudDem

    OBAMA – THE OPEN BORDERS PRESIDENT

    Sounds good – safe bet. Its not often you see anything sent from the House to the Senate even brought to a vote so that would be refreshing.

    Unlike the House? Immigration bill passed a year ago, had tons of money for securing the border, more than anyone had even asked for....and Boehner refuses to even bring it up for a vote

    July 16, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    “pension smoothing.”

    What a lovely euphemism for screwing people out of the compensation packages they agreed to – and thought their employers would honor.

    July 16, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. patNY

    States, not the Feds, should pay to keep their roads and bridges in good repair!

    July 16, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @Bill from GA: "I bet the Chinese are laughing their butts off at us and our dysfunctional government."

    ... and writing checks to all the RWNJ super PACs which continue to do the heavy lifting at destroying our country and readying it for "rescue" by "investors."

    July 16, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. salty dog

    Smoothing huh, last time I heard talk like that was our shops new president reducing raises, calling it controlled growth, I left shortly after that.

    July 16, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @morebs: "can you say election time. like I said once before this country might function better if elections were held every year. then maybe these so called leaders will actually do something for the sake of the country"

    Utterly stupid idea. We're already practically in an endless election cycle as it is and all the outside money and pandering that entails.

    July 16, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. rs

    If it weren't for dysfunction, we'd have no function at all.

    July 16, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    As any homeowner knows, maintaining your asset is just common sense. If your roof needs replacing, refusing to do so won't keep the elements from destroying it. You would suffer the consequences – including making it harder to sell your house in the future.

    Our nation's infrastructure is the same: We either maintain it or it will cost us more in the future.

    July 16, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
1 2