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House passes stopgap transport funding

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WASHINGTON (July 17, 2014) — The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill July 15 by a 367-55 vote that would keep U.S. transportation projects funded through May 2015.

The House bill would transfer $9.9 billion from the general fund and $1 billion from a separate trust fund into the Highway Trust Fund, which is expected to be depleted by sometime in August without congressional action.

President Barack Obama urged quick action in the Senate to pass the temporary funding bill, which he said would preserve 112,000 current transportation projects and 700,000 transportation-related jobs in the U.S. He also expressed disappointment that a longer-term transportation bill did not pass.

“Do something: That’s my big motto for Congress right now,” the president said in a statement on the White House website. “Just do something.”

He added that Congressional inaction on a more permanent funding solution was nothing more than “kicking the can” down the road to the next crisis.

The Obama administration is fighting for eventual passage of its $302 billion, four-year transportation bill that would provide certain funding for state and municipal transportation projects and build a world-class freight network that would ensure the safe delivery of U.S. goods worldwide, according to a White House email message.

Industry stakeholders also are disappointed in the stopgap funding.

“They kicked the can down the road again,” said Roy Littlefield, executive vice president of the Tire Industry Association, echoing the phrase used by President Obama and many other commenters.

Besides the disappointment of once again losing a chance to have long-term transportation funding, the House action places the next serious discussions on transportation legislation in the spring of 2015, right after the election, Mr. Littlefield said. This will not be an advantageous time for industry stakeholders to have their voices heard, he said.

“It puts the decisions on transportation at a time when it will be even more difficult than usual for the industry to have an impact,” he added.

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