Bipartisan highway bill on tap

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U.S. Senate photo (courtesy of YouTube) Calif. Sen. Barbara Boxer (center) announcing a bipartisan bipartisan bill to reauthorize the nation's transportation projects last week in the U.S. Senate, flanked by Sens. Thomas Carper, D-Del., (far left) , David Vitter, R-La. (behind Sen. Boxer) and John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

By Miles Moore, Senior Washington reporter

WASHINGTON (April 14, 2014) — The four leading senators on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have reached a tentative agreement on a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the nation’s transportation projects.

Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and ranking Republican David Vitter, R-La., announced the deal April 10, along with Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., chairman of the committee’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the subcommittee’s ranking Republican.

The proposed six-year bill would continue current funding levels for transportation, adjusted for inflation. Sens. Boxer and Vitter said the committee will mark up the bill after the spring recess.

Passage of highway funding reauthorization this year is a crucial issue for the tire industry and all other stakeholders in the U.S. transportation and highway system. The Highway Trust Fund, which provides money for federal highway building projects, is expected to run empty sometime this summer.

In a recent message to members, the Tire Industry Association stressed the absolute necessity of enhanced funding for the Highway Trust Fund.

“The highway use tax rates have not changed in 20 years,” TIA said. “For the past five years, user-based revenue streams have fallen far short of what is needed to address America’s infrastructure needs and to meet commitments.

“A long-term revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund will help grow the economy, create jobs and improve the quality of life for all Americans, while contributing to deficit reduction,” the association said.

A video of the senators’ press conference can be viewed on YouTube.

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