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July 20, 2015

U.S. House Passes Short-Term Highway Funding Bill

Last Wednesday, on an overwhelming bipartisan 312-119 vote,  the U.S. House passed H.R. 3038, a bill that provides a short-term extension for funding for U.S. highway and transportation programs and gives lawmakers more time to discuss how to pay for the nation’s growing infrastructure needs. 

While time is running out for lawmakers to deal with this matter – current funding for the programs will expire July 31 – members of the U.S. Senate prefer a longer term extension and are continuing to work toward that goal. (The House bill extends funding for only six months, to December 18, 2015.) The sticking point in this debate is how to pay for a multi-year bill and the senators are considering multiple options to raise those revenues, including imposing a tax on foreign profits held by US corporations in overseas accounts. While, according to Congressional Quarterly (subscription required), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly said he would like to continue to find a long-term solution before he agrees to pass another short-term fix, it is likely the Senate will bring up the House’s short-term bill if that agreement cannot be reached. 

A well-funded, multiyear reauthorization is necessary to maintaining a competitive U.S. manufacturing and metals industry. For example, in a study released last fall, the National Association of Manufacturers found a targeted and long-term increase in public infrastructure investments over the next 15 years would:

  • Add 1.3 million new jobs at the onset of an initial boost;
  • Expand gross domestic product by 1.3 percent by 2020 and 2.9 percent by 2030;
  • Create a progressively more productive economy, which will benefit from a $3 return on investment for every $1 invested in infrastructure by 2030; and
  • Increase Americans’ after tax income by $1,300 per household by 2020 and $4,400 per household by 2030.

MSCI also urges its members to call their representatives in the House and Senate to urge them to pass a long-term bill and to tell them how their business relies on a sound infrastructure system.