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Washington Beat: House Passes Bill to Keep Highway Trust Fund Open

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The House has passed a bill that would keep the federal Highway Trust Fund alive until next year. Washington Bureau Reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.

With the highway trust fund just weeks away from running out of cash, the House passed legislation Tuesday that would temporarily keep it afloat.

The bill drew bipartisan support from lawmakers, who were concerned that road construction projects would come to a halt as soon as next month.

The House plan would infuse the fund with $11 billion until next May. It would do that by allowing companies to temporarily delay contributions to employee pension funds—a move that would raise corporate tax bills in the short term.

"These are difficult decisions in difficult times in an election year. But it's important we find a solution," said House Speaker John Boehner.

Those election year politics prevented lawmakers from reaching a deal on a long term solution.

For years, the highway trust fund has been on the brink of bankruptcy, because most of its funding comes from a fuel tax that hasn't been raised in two decades.

Republicans were not interested in raising the tax this year, nor were they on board with President Barack Obama's long-term fix.

"Congress shouldn't pat itself on the back for averting disaster for a few months—kicking the can down the road for a few months—careening from crisis to crisis to crisis when it comes to something as basic as our infrastructure," Obama said.

The president says he will sign the House bill if it comes to his desk, however.

The Senate is working on a similar plan. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says a vote will take place before lawmakers leave for their month-long recess at the end of this month.

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