WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud voted in favor of legislation that will temporarily fund the Highway Trust Fund, which was otherwise projected to become insolvent by the end of this month. H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, reauthorizes the Highway Trust Fund through May 31, 2015. The bill passed the House of Representatives this evening by a 367-55 vote. Michaud is continuing to call on Republican leadership in the House to address a longer-term funding mechanism and reauthorization of transportation programs, to avoid another funding crisis in less than a year -- when this current bill would expire.
"I'm pleased that the House took action today to authorize additional funding for the Highway Trust. The steps we took are securing construction jobs in Maine, and will allow for the continued funding of ongoing transportation infrastructure projects in our state that enhance safety and bolster economic development," said Michaud. "But we cannot afford to keep kicking the can down the road on this -- and that is all the Republican leadership seems to want to do at this point. If we cannot make substantive headway on a longer-term reauthorization, then Congress will find itself back in this exact same spot next spring."
Michaud's vote in favor of H.R. 5021 today is the latest in a long series of steps he has taken to ensure the solvency of the Trust, and to protect Maine construction jobs and the state's transportation infrastructure. Michaud previously worked with Members on the House Ways and Means Committee -- the committee charged with financing the reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund -- on a funding measure stop-gap that would have provided a solution before the issue became an imminent crisis. Their legislation, H.R. 4985, would have stabilized the Trust for 18 months by closing a loophole that allows some companies to deem themselves foreign corporations in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Michaud also joined Rep. Chellie Pingree in speaking out against one proposal Republican leadership recently floated for reauthorizing the Trust: eliminating Saturday mail delivery.
"There is too much at stake to simply lurch from one short-term extension to the next when it comes to funding our nation's transportation infrastructure. Planners need years to adequately prepare for projects that are meant to upgrade and improve our nation's roads and transit. In many states, like Maine, the construction season is very short and every day matters. States need to know not only how much money they will have for projects, but that the money will be there," said Michaud. "I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on the reauthorization of the Highway bill and the funding mechanism for the Highway Trust Fund. I sincerely hope the Republican leadership in the House does not wait for another manufactured crisis."
H.R. 5021 will inject $10.8 billion into the Highway Trust, shoring up the fund through May 2015. The transfer will be offset through a $1 billion transfer from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, $6.4 billion in "pension smoothing," and $3.5 billion from an extension of customs fees.