Conservatives Slam Short-Term Fix To Highway Funding

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Peter Fricke Contributor
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Conservatives are unhappy with a short-term fix for highway funding that made it through the Republican-controlled House.

The House voted 367-55 on Tuesday to appropriate $11 billion to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent until May 31, 2015.

President Obama and congressional Democrats have expressed a preference for a longer-term extension, but USA Today reports that the president intends to sign the compromise bill if it passes in the Senate. (RELATED: Highway Trust Fund Almost Broke, Senators Propose Gas Tax)

The short-term fix was necessary after the two parties failed to reach an agreement on a more permanent fix, and is paid for through a combination of changes to pension taxes, customs fees, and money transferred from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund. (RELATED: Senate Highway Bill Contains Smoothing Pension Gimmick)

Prior to the vote, two major conservative interest groups, Heritage Action and Club for Growth, issued statements calling on members of Congress to oppose the bill.

In a statement released Monday, the Club for Growth claimed that the bill is funded with “budget gimmicks and fee increases”, and urges lawmakers to instead support the Transportation Empowerment Act (HR 3486), “which dramatically reduces the gas tax and devolves most transportation authority back to the states.”

Heritage went even further, calling the bill “the fifth bailout of the Highway Trust Fund since 2008.” Normally, the HTF is supposed to be funded by the federal gas tax, but due to “excessive spending levels…and many diversions to non-road, non-bridge activities,” Heritage says. Spending by the HTF has consistently exceeded revenues from the gas tax for the past five years.

Emily Goff, a policy analyst for Heritage, expressed disappointment with the House vote Wednesday, telling The Daily Caller News Foundation, “Congress must wake up to the growing interest among its own ranks and the states to bring transportation funding and spending decisions closer to the people affected by them.”

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