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David Harrison covers immigration, labor, retirement security and other social policy beats. Before joining CQ Roll Call in April 2011, he worked at Stateline and at the Roanoke Times in Virginia, where he contributed to the newspaper's coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. He is a graduate of Carleton College and George Washington University, where he earned a master's degree in public policy.
The roots of today’s transportation funding dilemma date to the 1990s, when the economy was roaring, deficits were shrinking and gas tax revenue was reliably increasing every year, thanks in part to two gas tax increases during that decade.
Congress has several legislative options to address shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund, although most of them are politically unacceptable or unlikely.
Congress’ efforts to fund highway spending look like a driver trying to extricate a car from the snow. Lawmakers move an idea into first gear, then slip it into reverse, then back to first, hoping the back-and-forth-motion generates enough momentum to get off the slick spot and move some legislation.
Supporters of a strong federal role in transportation have what seems like an unlikely ally in their effort to shift the direction of highway spending from Washington to the states.
The White House’s idea to promote public- private partnerships with a new kind of investment bond could raise billions of dollars for transportation projects with relatively little fiscal effect on the government, but the big infrastructure projects carry big risks for the private sector.
Robert Puentes, an infrastructure expert at the Brookings Institution, said federally backed infrastructure bonds could encourage state and local governments to step into the bond market once again.
The White House’s effort to promote public-private partnerships for infrastructure is the latest effort to tap the private sector for funds in an era of tight fiscal constraints. The outcome, if successful, could raise billions of dollars for investment in transportation projects with relatively little fiscal effect on the government.
Wisconsin is a particularly significant test case for considering alternatives to the excise tax on fuel, especially considering the proposal that emerged in the days after Gov. Scott Walker won re-election.
In his Nov. 14 budget request, Mark Gottlieb, Wisconsin’s secretary of Transportation, suggested assessing a special $50 registration fee on owners of hybrid and electric vehicles “to ensure these owners continue to pay their fair share of the operating costs of our infrastructure.”
Privatization backers of a corporation model such as the one used in Canada would help advance the technological upgrades required under the beleaguered NextGen air traffic control modernization program.
The question of whether the government should run the air traffic control system has been hanging over the aviation industry, and Capitol Hill, at least since President Ronald Reagan quashed the 1981 controllers’ strike. Any talk about restructuring or privatizing the operations now under the Federal Aviation Administration has long been blocked by the union representing the controllers, however, arguing that air traffic control is inherently a government function.
The gradually building recovery in the labor market may be one reason for the lack of urgency on Capitol Hill for action on the minimum wage.
The strong support voters showed in the midterm elections for increasing the minimum wage reinforced the idea of broad popular support for raising the wage floor and led Democrats to revive their calls for a higher federal minimum.
A traveler wishing to ride the rails in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston can choose from dozens of trains per day. Anyone wishing to ride the Sunset Limited from New Orleans to Los Angeles, however, has more limited options: There’s one train on Monday, one on Wednesday and one on Saturday.
Pension funds are slowly starting to take a look at investing in infrastructure projects, raising hopes among transportation advocates and lawmakers that the country’s roads and bridges could see an infusion of private cash.
Raising the federal gasoline tax has been a goal of many transportation policy and industry analysts, though they sometimes roll their eyes when they talk about it or smile ruefully. One lobbyist describes it as a glowing ember, carefully nurtured for years in the hopes that it could someday spark a change.
The House Republican plan to prevent, through the middle of next year, the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund is drawing grumbles from both the left and the right, but there is increasing recognition that Congress has little choice but to enact it, or something like it.
House GOP leadership is prepared to push ahead on legislation to save the Highway Trust Fund from looming insolvency, with a vote expected on the chamber floor next week.
Conservative groups and Republican lawmakers want to revive a policy debate over the federal role in transportation policy as Congress gets ready to debate a long-term reauthorization of highway and transit programs.
House leaders are setting aside a plan to finance a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund with cutbacks in U.S. Postal Service operations after a late barrage of opposition from rank-and-file members.
Congress is once more setting itself up for a last-minute funding crisis, set to hit right before lawmakers take off for their August recess.
American manufacturing hit an important milestone in April, when the Commerce Department reported that the sector had recovered all the value lost in the recession.
The Obama administration’s initiative to expand overtime pay protections may present tough choices for businesses, but several economic studies suggest companies won’t respond with new hiring.
It will likely be months before the Obama administration details the specific changes it plans for overtime rules, but officials are looking at making two significant shifts.
The White House decision to include an expansion of the earned income tax credit in its fiscal 2015 budget proposal added to the growing attention the credit has gained this year as lawmakers and policymakers search for ways to address the country’s widening income gap.