Congress passes tax reform; infrastructure left in the slow lane
By ATSSA VP of Government Relations, Nathan Smith
The House of Representatives yesterday passed an overhaul to the U.S. tax code in the form of HR 1 – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – in fact, House Republicans were so excited about it, they had a chance to redo their vote today in order to fix some technical glitches to conform with Senate rules.
The U.S. Senate followed the House’s lead and passed the conference report late last night, on a vote of 51-48. The legislation is the first major overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, and infrastructure organizations across the country were focused on including user fee increases for the Highway Trust Fund within the context of tax reform. The thinking was that if overall tax rates were being lowered, resistance to increases in gas and diesel taxes to pay for transportation projects would be lessened. Frustratingly, Congress did not share that sentiment.
Neither revenue increases for the Highway Trust Fund nor separate funding for the Trump Administration’s infrastructure package were included; thus, making the road ahead for infrastructure that much rockier. Although we compliment Congress for maintaining the tax-exempt status of private activity bonds – a financing incentive that was cut in the House version of the bill, yet maintained in the Senate version – the lack of any revenue or funding for infrastructure is extremely frustrating. This is especially the case given the support that investing in transportation infrastructure projects enjoys on the Hill.
We will be back at it in the new year, fighting for the necessary investments for our country's transportation infrastructure needs. Organizations ranging from the traditional construction industry to road users to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce all agree that increases to user fees are critical to advancing America’s infrastructure mission and lowering fatalities on our roads. Keep on the lookout on how to get involved in 2018 as we continue to push Congress and the Administration to face the facts, and deal with our underinvestment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure network.
To contact ATSSA's Government Relations team, email Nathan Smith at email@example.com.