Highway Bill Passes House, but Funding Shortfall Remains

The House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a multiyear highway bill that includes more than $300 billion in transportation and infrastructure programs to address the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges.

The bill, however, still fails to address a chronic shortfall in financing for the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for such projects, and has been the subject of a fierce, long-running disagreement over federal tax policy.

The House measure must now be reconciled with a Senate version adopted earlier this year. Like the House bill, the Senate measure included six years of policy prescriptions but only provided about three years’ worth of financing.

Some transportation experts criticized the measure, which they said was too small to address the nation’s widespread, and worsening, infrastructure problems. President Obama, in his budget, had called for a larger, $478 billion program. Still, authors of the House bill said it would improve the nation’s infrastructure as well as transportation safety.

At a news conference in the Capitol, newly appointed House Speaker Paul Ryan hailed the passage of the bill. “We just completed the work on a bipartisan highway bill,” he said. “It cuts waste. It prioritizes good infrastructure. And it will help create good-paying jobs.”

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