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It's Patch Bill Time Again for Highway Funding

Though federal highway funding is set to terminate on July 31, the House has proposed an $8.1 billion, five-month extension instead of a six-year reauthorization bill.
July 16, 2015, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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H.R. 3038 was scheduled to be heard on the House floor on Wednesday, July 15. It would provide transportation funding through December 18 [legislative digest (PDF)]. It is sponsored by House Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

"The $8.1 billion House plan, released Monday night, relies largely on revenue gained by giving the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) more information about mortgages, more time to investigate certain tax avoidance and new rules to prevent people from understating income on inherited property," writes Richard Rubin for Bloomberg Business.

(T)he short-term plan continues a reversal for Republicans this year on tax-compliance measures. Ryan’s predecessor, Dave Camp, last year resisted some of the same tax-compliance ideas when Senate Democrats proposed using them for a temporary highway-funding extension.

Giving the IRS additional authority may come as a surprise to readers familiar with the stormy relationship Republicans have had with the IRS. "Crippling the IRS" was seen as a top goal of Republicans, wrote Rachael Bade for Politico last December. 

In the Senate

Jennifer Scholtes of Politico Morning Transportation reports that while Senate Republicans do not favor the House approach, they have yet to unveil their own short term funding bill. In fact, it appears they may not go to the patch route, reports Jordain Carney of The Hill

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) paved the way on Tuesday evening for action on legislation to extend the Highway Trust Fund," writes Carney. "McConnell said Tuesday that there's 'bipartisan enthusiasm' for a multi-year bill."

That bill would be the $275 billion S.1647 or DRIVE Act, which passed the Environment and Public Works Committee on June 24. As Planetizen noted last month, Sens. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, "are leaving it up to the Finance Committee to find a way to pay for a $90 billion funding shortfall not covered by federal gasoline and diesel taxes."

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Published on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 in Bloomberg Business
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