The 7/22/14 3:51 PM EDT By Keith Laing

Congress on Tuesday moved one step closer to preventing a shortfall in federal transportation funding that could stall road projects across the country in August.
Senate Democrats on Tuesday said they would not pursue their own stopgap fix for the trasportation funding, instead accepting legislation passed by the House that would renew the funding until next spring.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he plans to hold a vote on the $10.9 billion House measure as early as Wednesday.
“We’re going to have votes on the Highway Trust Fund before we leave here,” Reid told reporters during a news conference.
“I’d like to do it tomorrow or the next day,” he said.
The Department of Transportation’s Highway Trust Fund, which is used to reimburse states for large infrastructure projects, has been forecasted to run out of money next month unless Congress approves at least a temporary funding extension.
Senate Democrats had hoped for a shorter extension that would have expired before the end of the year to force lawmakers to debate a long-term transportation package during the lame duck session that will follow the November elections.
But House Republicans have said that their bill is the only one that can pass both chambers in time to prevent the bankruptcy in the trust fund.
The normal funding source for transportation projects is revenue that is collected from the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax. The tax has not been increased since 1993, however, and it has struggled to keep pace with infrastructure expenses in recent years as cars have become more fuel efficient.
The current transportation funding bill, which is also scheduled to expire in September, includes approximately $50 billion per year in road and transit spending. The gas tax only brings in about $34 billion per year at its current rate, however.
Transportation advocates have pushed for lawmakers to increase the gas tax for the first time in two decades to close the infrastructure funding shortfall.
Lawmakers have been reluctant to increase the price that is paid by drivers in the middle of a campaign year, though GOP leaders have accused Democrats of trying to “sneak” a gas tax hike past voters after the midterms.
Reid said Tuesday that he is still negotiating with Republican leaders in the Senate over potential amendments to the transportation funding extension.
“We have four or five amendments where we’re trying to get agreement to allow them to come forward,” he said.

July 23rd, 2014|Highway Trust Fund|