WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, following today's EPW Committee passage of an 18-month extension of the highway program, called for immediate Senate Floor action to fix the Highway Trust Fund.
"With EPW Committee passage of an 18-month extension of the federal highway program, we are one step closer to fixing the Highway Trust Fund shortfall," Senator Inhofe said. "Given the current economic recession, it is more important than ever that there are no gaps in the continuous and reliable funding States rely on for their transportation programs -- we simply cannot allow Washington to fail. Oklahoma cannot afford to move forward with much needed projects without confidence in consistent funding from the Highway Trust Fund. For the sake of jobs back home and across America, it is imperative that Congress move quickly to pass a Highway Trust Fund fix."
The next step is the Senate Floor where this extension will be put together with language on a Trust Fund fix. According to the Administration the Trust Fund will require a total of $20 billion to get through this 18 month period.
"My preferred method is to recoup lost interest not paid on cash balances in the Trust Fund since 1998. The 1998 highway re-authorization bill made two negative changes to the Trust Fund: the first being the $8 billion transfer from the Trust Fund to the general fund that was restored last September; and the second ended the long-standing practice of crediting the Trust Fund with interest on its cash balances. Repaying the Trust Fund for lost interest would result in about $19 billion. According to the Congressional Research Service, every other major trust fund is credited with interest on cash balances; from Social Security to the Airports and Airways Trust Fund. In fact, I am not aware of any other trust fund that is not credited with interest on cash balances.
"Once we resolve the Highway Trust Fund shortfall, Congress should immediately return to the hard work of thoughtfully crafting a highway bill that Americans deserves. A highway bill means jobs -- and nothing is more important to getting this economy back on track than getting Americans back to work. Through my leadership position on the EPW Committee, I will be working closely with all members to make this happen."