The House today passed, 385-34, a bill to extend the highway trust fund authorization through October 29, 2015, from its current expiration date of July 31, 2015.
The bill—H.R. 3236 [PDF 334 KB]—was introduced by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), and is known as the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015.
The bill also contains provisions to raise approximately $5 billion in revenue to offset the cost of the additional months of spending for surface transportation. Further, it includes tax provisions relating to (1) liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and (2) health care of veterans. Read the Joint Committee on Taxation’s revenue table for the bill.
In addition to these revenue offsets, the bill would make the following modifications to the Internal Revenue Code:
Now that the House has passed the bill, the Senate is expected to take up the legislation within the next few days.
With the House expected to adjourn this evening, until September, the Senate will be left with the choice of passing H.R. 3236 before July 31 or seeing the federal highway programs face significant funding challenges. The Obama Administration has already indicated that the president is expected to sign the bill if Congress were to present it to him for his signature.
For almost a week, the Senate has been moving forward with its own highway transportation funding bill that would extend the authorization of the programs for six years. Over the next few days, the Senate is likely to continue to move forward with that bill. That six-year bill could be part of future negotiations to determine how the highway trust fund authorization will be extended beyond the expected new October 29, 2015 deadline.
However, by passing the three-month highway bill and immediately adjourning until September, the House is effectively forcing the Senate to accept the House leaders’ preference for a short-term highway bill funding extension.
As previously discussed in TaxNewsFlash-United States, House leaders—particularly Ways and Means Chairman Ryan—have been vocal in their desire to use the opportunity created by a need to readdress highway funding again this fall to potentially develop and enact major modifications to the international provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. By tying together the need for additional government revenue to fund highway spending with significant international tax modernization that could generate one-time tax revenues (such as through a tax imposed on untaxed accumulated foreign earnings of U.S. multinational corporations—“deemed repatriation”), some members may hope to generate additional support for enacting some form of international tax modernization in 2015.
If, as looks increasingly likely, the House prevails this week in its desire to extend the highway trust fund spending only for three months, the possibility of the enactment of international tax modifications this year remains alive.
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