The U.S. House has given its approval to legislation that will provide the federal highway trust fund with enough money to fund projects until next spring. The bill passed 367 to 55. Rep. Peter Welch voted against the bill because he says it fails to address the long term transportation needs of the country.
A major shortfall in the fund caused Vermont highway officials to consider delaying dozens of projects that were planned over the next few months.
The bill that passed the House is a short term plan that will pump an additional $10 billion into the Highway Fund through next May.
The legislation will be funded by changes to corporate pension laws and by increasing customs fees.
Welch says he couldn’t vote for a bill that delays the difficult decisions that need to be made on transportation funding and he says it's the second time Congress has sought a short term fix to the ongoing problem.
“We’ve blown it and we’re back doing the same thing kicking the can down the road,” said Welch. “And when it comes to the infrastructure we have got to be a confident country that is willing to be ambitious and to maintain the roads and bridges that we have.”
Welch thinks House Republicans are seeking a short term solution because they hope to win a majority of U.S. Senate seats in the November election. He says that is a short sighted strategy.
“Let’s say they are in charge in the Senate and the House we still have roads and bridges in Vermont and in Texas that need fixing and we need a sustainable funding source to do it,” said Welch. “So it’s not as though the nature of the challenge changes when they’re in control.”
The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration. While the White House says it would prefer a sustainable long term solution to the issue, it has announced its support for the House bill.