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A PATH to Nowhere?
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden's PATH Act [PDF] to 'patch' the Highway Trust Fund until a six-year reauthorization bill can pass Congress is off to an inauspicious start. Members agreed to reconvene on July 7, writes Transport Topics staff writer, Eugene Mulero.
Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah made their announcement during a highly-anticipated hearing they scheduled to consider a bill that would approve $9 billion to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through the end of December. No votes were taken at the June 26 hearing.
As we noted on June 25, the PATH or 'patch' act had at least two marks against it:
- Ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) complained it wasn't bipartisan.
- Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tenn. (not a member, but on the Banking Committee) called it a "gimmick", suggesting lack of Republican buy-in.
A third can now be added: Wyden's "Republican counterpart in the House, (Ways and Means Committee Chairman) Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), recently objected to his proposal."
“There is no way tax hikes to pay for more spending will fly in the House,” Camp said this week, referring to the Senate plan.
Taking an opposite perspective is Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), co-author of a bipartisan fuel tax hike proposal, called the PATH Act a 'gimmick' because it relied primarily on general fund transfers.
Wyden chose to please Camp, as well as Republicans on the Finance Committee and presumably further irritate Corker. Earlier on June 26, Mulero wrote, "But Wyden pre-empted debate over the (heavy vehicle use) tax in his opening remarks, agreeing to strike the truck tax in exchange for other bipartisan considerations."
"It’s crunch time on transportation,” Wyden told colleagues, adding that next month, state’s ability to pay for road and transit projects would be put at risk.