America's infrastructure funding will run out sometime this summer, assuming Congress does nothing. And since that's always the assumption, President Obama will announce plans to speed up building permits on Wednesday, to pressure lawmakers into passing new funding.
Obama will announce his plans to use his pen and phone to help "cut through red tape and expedite permitting decisions," near New York's Tappan Zee Bridge, according to The Wall Street Journal. The president also declared this week National Transportation Week to encourage Congress to "protect more than three million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills." Meanwhile Joe Biden is pushing for the bill in Cleveland.
The administration wants a $302 million bill, half of which would be funded by the 18.4 cent fuel tax on every gallon of gas (24.4 cents for diesel fuel), and — this is the long shot part — closing corporate tax loopholes, according to the Associated Press. Congress is more likely to pass a short patch funding bill and get into the policy after the midterm elections. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told Politico on Friday that a patch was “almost inevitable," while Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson said last week Congress would likely "kick the can down the road until the next session of Congress," notes the Wall Street Journal. Both parties agree infrastructure is important, especially in light of recent bridge collapses, but figuring out how to come up with the $18 billion necessary to keep up the fund through 2015, or $100 billion for the next six years, is the issue.
Ideally something will happen soon. On Monday, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said 112,000 projects and 700,000 jobs were in jeopardy if the Highway Trust Fund doesn't receive additional funding. The department will have to start delaying projects as soon as July. There is one bit of good news in all of this. As The Week points out, since the Highway Trust Fund is funded by gas taxes, its depletion is sign that Americans and their cars are more fuel efficient. Too bad that won't make driving on our nation's crumbling infrastructure any safer.