The U. S. House of Representatives voted 387 to 37 July 23 to pass legislation to restore $8 billion to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) that was taken out in the 1990s when the HTF had a positive balance. This represented an important victory for the Associated Equipment Distributors and others who had lobbied heavily for the passage of the restored funding.
The bill (H.R. 6532) was introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), and T&I Ranking Member John Mica (R-FL) to prevent a 30 percent drop in highway funding in FY 2009 that will result from a shortfall in HTF revenues.
In an open letter to the House leadership earlier in the week, AED said that, "In addition to the prospective impact on the economy, the uncertainty surrounding next year's highway program is undermining the benefits of the Economic Stimulus Act because some contractors are unwilling to buy new equipment and take advantage of the depreciation bonus and higher Sec. 179 levels while faced with the threat of a 30 percent highway program cut." AED urged lawmakers to quickly resolve the HTF shortfall.
Despite the House vote, the outlook for the HTF bill is uncertain. Although there is strong support in the Senate, the president today announced that he would veto the legislation.