Today the Committee will consider H.R. 3864, the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Financing Act of 2012.” This legislation would reauthorize through September 30, 2016 expenditure authority for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and extend through September 30, 2018 the current Federal excise taxes that fund the Highway Trust Fund.
H.R. 3864 also would restructure the funding sources for the Highway Account and Mass Transit Account that comprise the Trust Fund, and deposit certain non-tax revenues into the Highway Trust Fund without increasing the deficit.
We all can agree that funding improvements to the nation’s infrastructure is vitally important to creating and sustaining economic growth and promoting commerce. As such, I believe that this is an issue that can and should be addressed in a bipartisan manner.
Cities and towns depend on a strong infrastructure as a way to ensure that they can attract businesses to locate in their communities and create jobs. In my home state of Michigan, where unemployment remains well above the national unemployment rate, having a safe and reliable transportation system can provide a strong foundation for attracting business development.
However, we must approach infrastructure spending in a fiscally responsible way, and H.R. 3864 accomplishes that goal.
Because infrastructure spending has consistently outpaced Highway Trust Fund revenues, we have been propping up the Trust Fund with deficit-financed transfers from the General Fund. As a result, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has recently estimated that the Highway Trust Fund will run out of money for highway projects in Fiscal Year 2013 and for mass transit projects in Fiscal Year 2014. The bill before us today will provide stable funding for these projects for at least the next 5 years—without raising a dollar in new or higher taxes or adding a penny to the deficit.
I think it is important to make two points about this bill.
- First, the bill has no new excise taxes. Instead, current excise taxes are extended at current levels.
- Second, general fund transfers will help pay for the highway bill, as they have in the past. However, unlike the past, House leaders have pledged to find the money to offset that transfer. Those items are not before us today and are being worked on by other committees.
The overall highway bill has three principal goals: responsibly fund infrastructure improvements, create jobs, and promote domestic energy development. By transferring new revenues from domestic energy development into the Highway Trust Fund, our bill helps to accomplish all three objectives—without raising taxes or adding to our national debt. In fact, the Joint Committee on Taxation says that H.R. 3864 will have no net effect on Federal revenues.
So, our task today is clear. We are here to ensure that the funds dedicated to infrastructure spending have a path to the Highway Trust Fund.