Bloomberg News

Republicans Said to Consider Dropping Transit Funding-Cut Plan

February 28, 2012

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives may reinstate guaranteed funding for mass- transit projects after a bill that dropped it drew opposition from party members, a senior House official said.

They are also considering shortening the duration of the bill and cutting planned spending on highway, bridge and transit projects, said the official, who declined to be identified because the talks aren’t public.

The current House proposal calls for spending $260 billion on those projects over five years. The new plan would be attached to the bill that the House passed last week to devote revenue from expanded oil and gas drilling to transportation improvements, the official said.

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, put off House debate on the surface-transportation bill last week as some Republicans called it too expensive and others opposed the ending guaranteed funding for mass transit. Business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobby, and transit advocates represented by the American Public Transportation Association also spoke out against the transit proposal.

A call to Boehner’s office after regular business hours today wasn’t immediately returned.

Congress is facing a March 31 deadline to extend surface transportation funding. Authorization for the last multiyear bill ran out in 2009, and programs have since operated on a series of short-term extensions.

The U.S. Highway Trust Fund pays for programs outlined in surface-transportation legislation with money from a 18.4-cent gasoline tax. It may not be able to meet its obligations as early as October, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Revenue is declining as Americans drive more fuel-efficient cars and drive less because of higher gas prices, according to the Department of Transportation.

--Editors: Andrea Snyder, Timothy Franklin

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Caruso in Washington at lcaruso7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net -0- Feb/23/2012 23:41 GMT


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