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House Ways and Means Committee to Markup Reauthorization Bill, House Natural Resources Committee Reports Out Three Bills
The U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee will mark up H.R. 3864, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Financing Act of 2012 on February 3, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. EST. The Committee released the text of the bill late on February 1. The bill would provide funding for the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's federal transportation reauthorization bill, described in this previous Policy Update.
The Ways and Means bill would extend the Highway Trust Fund, along with the smaller Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund and the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, through October 1, 2016. It would also maintain current rates for federal highway user fees through October 1, 2018.
The bill also contains several new provisions. One would direct proceeds from expanded energy exploration to the Highway Trust Fund; the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee reported out three bills to expand domestic energy production on February 1. More specifically, the Natural Resources Committee bills would allow greater offshore energy production, open portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to energy development, and establish rules for the development of domestic oil shale resources.
The Ways and Means bill would also transform the current Mass Transit Account into the Alternative Transportation Account. It would transfer all FY2012 receipts from the Mass Transit Account to the Alternative Transportation Account, would terminate the current funding of the Account from fuels tax receipts, and would also appropriate $40 billion in general revenues to the Alternative Transportation Account.
GO TO 2040 calls on federal policymakers to provide sustainable, adequate revenues for the transportation, and supports the principle of user-fee financing of the transportation system. User fees directly connect costs with benefits and have been the centerpiece of federal and state transportation finance for decades. The recent bills from the House of Representatives would erode this tradition -- the funding sources they rely on have no nexus to transportation, and, in the case of the transfer from the General Fund to the Alternative Transportation Account, are not dedicated to transportation projects.