The U.S. Senate passed a short-term extension of the federal Highway Trust Fund Tuesday, clearing the way for an agreement to keep the fund solvent.
The trust fund provides key funding to the states for the management and maintenance of highways. The Department of Transportation estimates the trust fund will run out of money as early as late July. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has told state transportation officials that DOT reimbursements may be shortchanged as early as Aug. 1.
The Senate approved an $8 billion proposal by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), which provides enough money for the Highway Trust Fund until Dec. 19.
A House bill by Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) provides $11 billion through May. Congressional leaders say there is enough agreement between the parties to pass an extension.
The White House supports the Camp plan, which is financed by higher customs fees, letting companies delay contributions to employee pension plans, and transferring money from a leaking underground storage tank fund.
Meanwhile, the Allentown Morning Call reports that an amendment by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) was rejected by the Senate. Toomey sought to skip most environmental reviews for road and bridge repairs triggered by natural disasters, describing the review process as time-consuming and costly.