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House Preps Highway Extension as Deadline Looms

Funding would continue until July 31, but a long-term solution remains elusive.

 The House is slated to vote next week on an extension of federal highway authority that would avert a funding cutoff at the end of the month. But lawmakers' reprieve from finding a longer-term solution won't last long.

The legislation, which would allow state transportation departments to draw on the Highway Trust Fund only until July 31, will be considered Monday in the House Rules Committee under emergency procedures, setting it up for a floor vote Tuesday. The extension isn't expected to be controversial on the House floor, as most lawmakers are aware of the problems that would be caused if their states can no longer access money for infrastructure projects.

Tax writers had hoped for a longer extension of highway authority to give them time to put together a robust tax package that would become part of a long-term surface-transportation bill. But extending the Highway Trust Fund authority to the end of the year costs $10 billion, and offsets for that figure are hard to come by.

According to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the two-month extension that lawmakers have settled on does not require any offsets because the trust fund will remain solvent during that period. The measure will allow states to get reimbursed for expenses on federal-aid projects, however.

Senate GOP leaders say they expect to adopt the House's bill, possibly on a voice vote with no debate, later in the week.

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