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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation reports that the Highway Trust Fund will be unable to fully fund critical, ongoing highway programs as soon as August. This crisis stems from a fundamental mismatch between trust fund revenues and highway program spending that predates enactment of the last surface transportation reauthorization that Congress enacted. Since 2008, Congress has bailed out the Highway Trust Fund with more than $54 billion in transfers.
H.R. 5021 provides the necessary funds to keep the federal highway and transit programs running while Congress develops legislation to set these programs on a sound financial footing for the long term. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the systematic factors that have been driving the Highway Trust Fund's bankruptcy.
Importantly, this bill follows a House budget rule that requires general fund transfers to the trust fund to be fully offset. It should not become a recurring practice for taxpayers to bail out the highway and transit programs because Congress and the President are unable to make the changes necessary to avoid future trust fund insolvency.
My primary concern is with using pension smoothing as an offset. Based on CBO scoring, the bill produces ten-year savings through changing pension law, but these changes will likely be more than offset by greater federal obligations in the future. Ultimately, allowing additional smoothing now increases future liabilities for the taxpayer guarantee of private-sector pensions. In addition, we are increasingly using 10 years of savings to offset one year of costs as this bill does. It is progress to offset these costs, but we need to be reducing spending and deficits and when we increase spending, we should be offsetting the cost in as short a timeframe as possible.
Again, I look forward to working with my colleagues on legislation that will set the Highway Trust Fund on a sustainable path going forward, so that we can avoid the kind of stop-gap legislation we are considering today.
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