BERKELEY – After another round of brinkmanship, a rancorous US Congress passed a last-minute bill to avert the bankruptcy of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the primary source of federal funding for America’s highway and transit infrastructure. The HTF finances about $50 billion of infrastructure spending a year, and its bankruptcy would have forced state and local governments to shelve thousands of projects, threatening tens of thousands of construction jobs.
The new legislation provides a temporary $11 billion fix that will postpone the HTF’s bankruptcy for about ten months. Through fiscal gimmickry, the bill’s funding costs are pushed beyond the arbitrary ten-year budget window behind which Congress hides to signal its fiscal responsibility. But there is nothing fiscally responsible about this legislation.