Highway Bill Headed for Veto?

“There is a dark cloud looming that will needlessly delay many important highway and transportation projects around the country and force consumers to pay more at the pump at exactly the worst possible time,” said a statement by Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.

“This threat is a Senate proposal expected to be debated [the week of May 9th] which would bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund by increasing spending based on accounting gimmicks,” Mineta explained.

“Offering American taxpayers an artificially inflated six-year highway, transit and safety authorization bill means promising to spend money that doesn’t exist. If the Congress chooses to irresponsibly add billions to the cost of the bill, it is setting itself up to raise gas taxes or risk bankrupting the Highway Trust Fund in the very near future. Neither option is acceptable.

“The President made it clear [at the end of April] that he would veto any bill that increases the top-line dollar figure beyond the $284 billion, six-year level that has already been overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works,” Mineta concluded, urging the Senate to “take the fiscally responsible approach by protecting taxpayers, keeping the American economy moving and passing the highway bill.”

In other news, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an energy bill that includes financial incentives to truck fleets to replace older trucks with newer, cleaner burning models. The bill included $100 million in fiscal years 2006-2008.

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