Washington, D.C. - The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) today applauded the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate for swift passage of HR 6532, legislation that will transfer $8 billion from the general fund of the Treasury to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Passage in the House follows approval of the same bill Wednesday by the U.S. Senate. House and Senate leaders addressed the shortfall in a bipartisan fashion. The bill will prevent a shortfall in federal funds available to reimburse states for work undertaken on federal aid highways around the country. The delay in repaying the states would have jeopardized future state highway projects and slowed down the work on on-going federal-aid highway construction projects.
"We knew this shortfall was coming and we have made this a priority for the last two years," said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of AGC. "The money was set to run out, states were going to be left holding the bag and contractors would have been forced to lay people off."
The legislation will now move to the President's desk for signature. Once the bill is signed, the Federal Highway Administration will resume its long-standing procedure of reimbursing states on a daily basis for the full amount submitted.
"We're relieved that the Administration finally decided to join us in supporting this fix and that Congress was able to get it done quickly," added Sandherr. "We can now turn our focus to working with Congress on the heavy lifting that will ensure a strong, well-funded program in the future."
The Highway Trust Fund, which funds highway and bridge construction projects and is funded by the 18.3 cents federal gas tax, was projected to run out of money by the end of the month. The funding shortfall is primarily due to continuing reductions in vehicle miles traveled by the nation's drivers who are reacting to high gas prices. Numerous state departments of transportation announced that if the full federal funds were not forthcoming they would be forced to cancel contract lettings, slow down work on on-going projects and, in some cases, be forced to issue debt to make payments to contractors for work that is already under way.
AGC has been calling on Congress and the Administration to work together to guard against insolvency since its financial instability became apparent in the President's 2007 budget proposal, submitted to Congress in February 2006.
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the largest and oldest national construction trade association in the United States. AGC represents more than 33,000 firms, including 7,500 of America's leading general contractors, and over 12,500 specialty-contracting firms. More than 13,000 service providers and suppliers are associated with AGC through a nationwide network of chapters. Visit the AGC Web site at www.agc.org.