By Keith Laing, June 2, 2014
The chairwoman of the Senate committee that is pushing for a new $265
billion transportation bill called the House’s proposal to use cuts at
the United States Postal Service to help pay for the measure
Republican leaders in the House said last Friday that they were planning to use revenue from rolling back Saturday postal deliveries to pay for a short-term transportation bill.
GOP leaders argued that linking the postal cuts and transportation
funding would prevent a bankruptcy in infrastructure spending that has
been projected to occur in August without congressional action.
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is the chairwoman of the Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee, said the GOP’s transportation
plan was “strange,” however.
“Late Friday, Republican leaders of the
House came out with a strange plan to ‘rescue’ the Highway Trust Fund
for a few months,” Boxer said in a statement. “Instead of working with
Democrats to come up with a sensible user fee which has been the
foundation of the Highway Trust Fund, House Republican Leadership
proposes cutting back mail deliveries to American households. This idea
is a jobs killer which does not even fund the Highway Trust Fund for a
long enough period of time to provide the certainty that states, cities,
and businesses need.”
GOP leaders said their plan to link postal
cuts to transportation spending bill could provide about $14 billion to
$15 billion, which they said would provide a year’s worth of
reinforcement for the Department of Transportation’s highway trust
The traditional source of revenue for the Highway Trust
Fund is the federal gas tax, which is currently priced at 18.4 cents per
gallon. The gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and it currently
only brings about $34 billion per year, however.
The Senate is
pushing for a six-year transportation bill that would maintain the
current level of annual funding, which is approximately $50 billion per
The upper chamber has not yet identified how it would pay
for the transportation spending beyond the $204 billion that is expected
to be brought in by the gas tax between now and 2020.
Boxer said she was not impressed with the House GOP’s plan to take money from the USPS, however.
plan is a classic example of House Republicans not planning for a
shortfall we have known about for years,” Boxer said. “It is ‘the dog
ate my homework excuse.’ It is unworkable, makes no sense, and ignores
the huge infrastructure needs we face, as so many bridges and roads are
in grave disrepair. If the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
can do its job and pass a bill unanimously, then surely the House can
begin to do the work needed to solve this problem -- and not kick the
can down the road with a totally unrelated and unworkable idea.”