Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) released a five-year budget proposal that allows Congress to enact nearly $90 billion in new highway user taxes just to keep the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) solvent through 2024.

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Dry Process Project

Consideration of the budget in committee is slated to begin by March 27. Movement of the budget beyond the committee level is uncertain: Democrat and Republican leaders in both chambers have cast doubt on the chances of reaching an agreement on anything that is not considered must-pass legislation. However, this recognition of the need to address the HTF via user fees to adequately solve this revenue problem is the most significant legislative signal by Senate Republicans in years.

The Highway trust fund is likely to run out of money in 2021 without additional revenues. Keeping core federal highway and transit programs funded at levels sustained only by federal fuel and truck taxes at current rates, which haven’t been increased since 1993, would result in a 40 percent cut to program activity. The HTF is currently bolstered by $70 billion in non-fuel tax revenues provided through the 2015 FAST Act, which expires next year.   

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