Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Good news for people who like bad news:

Yes, that's right: The Senate and the House are now a-fightin’ over competing bills to float the nearly-drained Highway Trust Fund, which will have to start severely curtailing the money it doles out to states in just two days unless a compromise is reached.

See, the upper chamber just rejected the lower’s 10-month fix, instead opting for a patch that would only cover funding through mid-December. Its competing proposal would be paid for by tightening tax loopholes, while the House’s version would allow corporations to delay contributions to employee pension plans, “thereby increasing taxable income and generating revenue for the Treasury.”

Meanwhile, ol' John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has already said that House leaders plan to strip out the Senate’s language, reinsert its own, and send the bill back to the Senate. The Senate, then, would …

... You know what? Let’s not get bogged down in the details, because here’s what we know: Without an extension, there are lots and lots and lots of transportation projects that will go idle or won’t even start as federal money stops flowing to the states. The White House warns that roughly 700,000 jobs depend on these projects.

Will Congress come to an agreement and get something finished before they leave town for the August recess? The money is on yes. But this is an awfully dangerous game of chicken they're playing.

Congress should be passing a massive, long-term infrastructure bill anyway. But until then, simply keeping the Highway Trust Fund funded is the right thing to do.