(Washington)—A leading transportation infrastructure group criticized the House tax bill passed today for failing to address the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund in 2021 and the “$1,000 per year ‘hidden tax’ borne by every American household due to ever increasing traffic congestion on the Interstate highways.”
In a statement released following the House tax vote, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane said: “The Highway Trust Fund solvency problem is a revenue problem, not a policy problem. It is a problem that rests squarely on the shoulders of the House and Senate committees charged with developing revenue and tax bills. Federal transportation tax reform should be a priority in this broad legislation. Thus far, the ball has been dropped.”
Ruane noted 253 House members—119 Republicans and 134 Democrats—signed a June 12 letter to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Ranking Democrat Richard Neal (D-Mass.) urging a permanent trust fund solution be included in tax reform.
Ruane said congressional inaction on the trust fund “could tube President Trump’s plans for infrastructure.” He noted that absent a permanent revenue solution, the federal highway program that provides more than half of the capital investments made by the state transportation departments each year faces a 40 percent cut in 2021.
As the tax bill process moves forward, “There is still time for Congress to do its job,” Ruane said. He urged President Trump to engage Congress in transportation tax reform now “to secure the down payment that will be necessary to make his infrastructure initiative successful.”
“The strangling traffic congestion on the nation’s Interstate highways has a very real and quantifiably negative impact on the nation’s productivity and international competitiveness,” Ruane said. “It makes every product purchased by U.S. households and businesses more expensive than they need to be, causing a drag on the overall economy.”
He noted that as congestion has gotten increasingly worse over the past 20 years, federal investment in highway improvements has barely kept pace with inflation.
A study by the Center for Economic & Business Research using data from the Seattle-based company INRIX, which collects data from more than 180 million vehicles and devices out on the roads every day, found traffic congestion in the U.S. costs Americans at least $124 billion annually—the equivalent of about $1,000 per U.S. household.
Established in 1902, Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA is the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, news media and the general public.