Jim Burnley interviewed on federal highway funding

2 min

Venable partner Jim Burnley was interviewed in the July 16, 2014 editions of the Journal of Commerce, Star Tribune, and Supply Chain Management Review on funding issues for the Federal Highway Fund (HTF). The House of Representatives passed an extension bill to replenish the fund with $10.9 billion which would keep it solvent through next May.

Speaking with the Journal of Commerce, Burnley said Congress is running out of “pay-fors” and budget tricks to keep the fund afloat without a long term solution. Burnley said he would not rule out any option to increase revenue other than increasing the fuels tax which Congress and the White House do not support. “The U.S. is basically at a crossroads about how it will pay for surface transportation infrastructure over the next decade,” Burnley added. “It will require serious leadership from Obama working with the leadership in the new Congress to try to structure a remedy.”

“It’s going to take leadership,” Burnley told the Star Tribune. “These things don’t happen by osmosis…There has to be a point at which the Obama administration and the leadership in both parties in Congress come to the same place about how to fund infrastructure.” In a growing economy with demand for more infrastructure, Burnley said “there will be more freight. Over 70 percent of freight in the country moves by truck and someone has to pay for it.”

In an interview with Supply Chain Management Review, Burnley said, “The key players in Congress are all signaling that since the transfers from the general treasury accounts into the HTF have been going on for six years, this go around is again a short-term fix, and they are running out of off-sets and are scraping the bottom of the barrel…Doing these short-term patches has gotten harder, and because of basic underlying trends each time we go through this, we need more money as the shortfall is growing. It is time for leadership in both parties to try to come to a consensus to a longer-term remedy, whatever that means, and find other alternatives. Political leadership in both parties in Congress is saying they have run their string out with short-term patches in this round and are not likely able to keep doing this.”