The Hill.com 6/11/14 10:48 AM EDT By Keith Laing

Transportation advocates are questioning whether the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Tuesday will put the brakes on congressional effects to prevent a bankruptcy in federal transportation funding this summer.
Cantor was unexpectedly defeated in a primary election on Tuesday night by newcomer Dave Brat. The now-lame duck majority leader was involved in crafting a recent Republican proposal to tie transportation funding to cut backs at the U.S. Postal Service.
AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Ed Wytkind told The Hill on Tuesday that Cantor’s defeat could reverberate into the transportation funding discussions that are happening now in Washington.
“If you step away from looking [just] at the Cantor defeat and look at the possible message from last night, this could inject even more toxicity into relations between Democrats and Republicans on the larger issues,” Wytkind said.
“Any long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund situation is going to have to involve compromise over funding and probably tax reform,” he said. “Republicans and Democrats must move on and not let the Cantor election derail a responsible package that funds our surface transportation needs.”
House GOP leaders have said that eliminating Saturday deliveries at the Postal Service would provide about $15 billion, which they say would be enough to pay for at least one year of transportation projects.
The traditional source for transportation funding is revenue that is collected by the federal gas tax, which is currently priced at 18.4 cents-per-gallon. The gas tax only brings is approximately $34 billion per year however, and the current level of transportation spending that was approved by Congress in 2012 is about $50 billion annually.
Lawmakers are scrambling to come up with way to plug the gap before a projected bankruptcy in the Department of Transportation’s Highway Trust Fund that budget analysts have said could occur as early as August without congressional action.
Transportation and postal advocates have objected to the GOP proposal, accusing House Republicans of taking a shortsighted approach that will not fix the larger problems at either the Post Office or in federal transportation funding.
On the verge of his primary election, Cantor defended the House GOP’s transportation from critics he said were “misguided.”
“Under current House Rules and under recent practice, a transfer of general funds into the Highway Trust Fund must be offset,” Cantor wrote Friday in a memo to members of the House Republican Conference.
“Given the limited window for action, we believe it is important that an offset be simple and have the support of the Administration and Congressional Republicans,” Cantor continued. “The move to eliminate the mandate for full six day postal delivery has been requested by the Obama Administration, the Postal Service, and has been included in the postal reform bill reported by Chairman [Darrell] Issa [R-Calif.] and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.”
Democrats in the Senate have pushed by strongly on the House GOP proposal. The primary author of the Senate’s transportation legislation, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), called the House plan “unworkable” last week.
Additionally, the Senate’s chief budget writer, Sen. Patty Murrary (D-Wash.), said on Tuesday the GOP proposal was the “wrong way to go.”
Cantor told his colleagues in the GOP caucus that he was looking forward “to discussing this with you and clarifying any outstanding questions you may have.”
Instead, lawmakers were questioning Wednesday what Cantor’s loss might mean for congressional relations for the rest of the year.
“You know, my concern is that a lot of things are going to be dead and pushed to the side,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.
“I’m concerned that, for instance, the Ted Cruz supporters, the Rand Paul supporters are going to use this as an excuse to basically stop the government from functioning,” King continued. “I mean, thank God, there is no debt ceiling vote coming up. Thank God, there’s not an opportunity to shut the government down over the next several months. Because I think we’re going to get…bogged down in those type issues.”

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