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House Republicans Propose Deep Cuts to Federal Highway Funding

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7/8/2011 2:30:00 PM

House Republicans proposed a six-year, $230 billion highway-funding transportation package that is sharply lower than the level sought by the Obama administration, news services reported.

Unveiled Thursday by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the plan would sharply cut highway and transit funding, and seek to curb Amtrak and high-speed rail projects backed by the administration, McClatchy newspapers reported.

The White House had been seeking $556 billion for highway projects. A previous five-year, $285 billion transportation bill expired in 2009, and Congress has passed seven temporary extensions since then, McClatchy reported. The current funding runs out Sept. 30.

Mica said the bill would keep the federal Highway Trust Fund from running out of money, but critics said it would shortchange transportation needs and hurt economic recovery efforts, according to the McClatchy story, which was posted on the Miami Herald’s website.

The House must reconcile its plan with the Senate’s two-year, $109 billion proposal, offered by the Environment and Public Works Committee, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The Senate’s plan would keep funding at current levels.

The trust fund faces insolvency next year after six years of declining balances, according to the Congressional Budget Office, Bloomberg reported.

President Obama and Congressional Republicans have ruled out a gasoline tax increase and have suggested making up the shortfall by attracting more private-sector funding, Bloomberg said.

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