The US Highway Trust Fund has been dwindling for the last 10 years, but Congress recently approved a new plan to give it a much-needed boost. Both the House and the Senate have proposed differing legislation to address transportation programs, and this Tuesday compromised on a $305 billion plan that would manage infrastructure care until 2020. Both chambers of Congress are expected to seal the deal by the end of 2015.
The five-year measure is the longest of its kind since 2005 and lawmakers are glad to have achieved a bipartisan agreement that will last until the end of the decade. Not only will the nation’s roads and bridges receive attention, but funds will also be made available for public transit, freight rail, and transportation safety programs.
Congress’ official joint statement reads, “A safe, efficient surface transportation network is fundamentally necessary to our quality of life and our economy, and this conference report provides long-term certainty for states and local governments, and good reforms and improvements to the programs that sustain our roads, bridges, transit, and passenger rail system.”
The House and Senate are also expected to address some more key issues before 2015 comes to a close: an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind law and a spending bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. Proponents of the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides benefits to 9/11 first responders, were disappointed when the program expired two months ago and its renewal was not attached to the transportation bill. They will try again to put it in front of Congress next week when crucial government spending is addressed.