The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation bill, but Sen. James Inhofe said the plan won’t go any further until a $12 billion shortfall is plugged.
The Oklahoma Republican said the committee will “have to go back to the drawing board” if it isn’t able to fill the gap between expected funding from the Highway Trust Fund and planned spending. Funding for the bill, sponsored by Inhofe and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, can’t be gained by transferring general funds dollars as has been done in the past.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., previously said he expects to introduce the House’s competing six-year, $286 billion transportation plan over the next several of weeks. House Republicans are trying to find ways to fill the plan’s $75 billion to $100 billion shortfall.
In addition to maintaining current transportation funding plus inflation, the Senate bill calls for the reduction of transportation plans from about 90 to 30. The bill also would reduce the major highway programs from seven to five.
The Senate plan would increase annual funding for a federal transportation credit program from about $120 million to $1 billion. The House bill could have a similar measure, said Mica, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Under the House plan, a program would be created to finance freight projects and develop an overall investment strategy, Mica said.