A Senate bill that deals with roads, the vehicles that use those roads, and the various impacts that those roads and vehicles have on the environment, states, counties, cities and rural areas. The legislation is commonly referred to as MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), and uses the same name as its predecessor, a two-year bill signed into law by President Obama on June 29th, 2012. That two-year bill expires on September 30th, 2014; this bill would pick up where the other leaves off.
The bill costs $264.4 billion, and how the bill will be funded has been the subject of much debate. The chief problem lies with the Highway Trust Fund running out of money. Funding for federal and state roads projects is collected via taxes and fees. These fees are then placed into trust funds, the most important being the Highway Trust Fund. This fund pays for roughly 45% of what U.S. states spend on bridges and roads. According to Reuters,
Since 2008, Congress has transferred about $54 billion from general tax revenues to the fund, which was intended to be self-sustaining. With Americans driving less and using more fuel efficient vehicles, the fund hasn't kept pace with spending.
The fund is currently on schedule to go bankrupt in August, according to the Department of Transportation.
Multiple possibilities have been put forth to cover the cost of the legislation. President Obama, according to Bloomberg, “proposed a four-year, $302 billion bill that would raise $150 billion through taxes on overseas earnings and by closing loopholes that would normally let companies defer those obligations.” This bill, both significantly cheaper and covering a longer span of time, does not include that solution, nor it does include President Obama’s proposal to fill the fund back up by means of allowing states to toll interstate highways. Another proposed solution is to increase the gas tax—a levy that has remained the same since 1993— from 18.4-cents-per-gallon to a 33-cents-per-gallon.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) passed the legislation on May 12th. Other Senate committees will address funding options. At present, no date has been set for when the Senate as a whole will vote on the bill.