House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced a bill to extend the highway trust fund authorization through December 18, 2015, from its current expiration date of July 31, 2015.
The bill—H.R. 3038—also contains provisions to raise approximately $8 billion in revenue to offset the cost of the additional five months of spending for surface transportation.
In addition to these revenue offsets, the bill would also decrease the excise tax on liquefied national gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to 14.1 cents per gallon (from 24.3) and 13.2 cents per gallon (from 18.3), respectively, for sales or use of fuel after December 31, 2015.
The House is likely to consider the bill later this week. It is unclear when a Senate Republican bill may be unveiled, although it is possible that it may be released as early as this week.
By extending the authorization (and funding) for the highway trust funding for only five months, House leaders create both a need and an opportunity to readdress the issue before the end of this calendar year.
Ways and Means Chairman Ryan has stated his preference for revisiting highway funding this fall in conjunction with developing and enacting major modifications to the international provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. If those modifications can be made in a manner that would generate one-time tax revenues (such as through a tax imposed on untaxed accumulated foreign earnings of U.S. multinational corporations “deemed repatriation”), then a portion of those one-time revenues could be used to fund a multi-year extension of the highway trust fund beginning in December.
The action this week by the House sets up a potential conflict with the Senate. Senate Republican leadership has made it clear that they prefer a multi-year extension of the highway trust fund rather than the five-month extension proposed by the House. This is generally viewed as reflecting a desire of many in the Senate to postpose any future votes on the highway funding issue until after the November 2016 elections.
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