Though Congress seems to lurch from one crisis of its own making to the next, there is a real potential crisis on the horizon next year when the mega transportation funding bill expires. That’s because the dedicated Highway Trust fund that pays for transportation spending, mostly with gas taxes, has dwindled down so much there’s no money to pay the bills. About half of state transportation money comes from Washington, so Congress will have to do something real. The traditional approach — extending the old transportation plan for months or years while Congress squabbles — isn’t likely to work because there’s no money to pay for such an extension.
Where will the money come from? That’s been the elephant in the room for a while.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was asked whether progress was being made:
“I’m engaged in talks with Capitol Hill all the time,” replied the former mayor of Charlotte, N.C. “There’s an old Southern expression: you can’t push a rope. We want to know where their ‘yes’ point is.”