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Senate Abandons Heavy Vehicle Tax, to Work with House on Highway Trust Fund Fix

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In late June, the Senate Finance Committee discussed a plan to bail out the insolvent Highway Trust Fund (HTF) through the end of December but recessed without holding a vote. Instead, Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Orin Hatch (R-UT) agreed to work together and with House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp (R-MI) over the week-long July 4 recess to come up with a plan that will be accepted by Democrats and Republicans.

To begin, Wyden offered a modification of his original $9 billion proposal which eliminated the Heavy Highway Vehicle Use tax increase on trucks in the original bill. Senators Hatch and John Thune (R-SD) opposed this tax change. Wyden and Hatch jointly decided that there is not enough time to produce a long-term Trust Fund solvency solution before the August recess; they are working to pay for the short-term fix. Hatch also emphasized the need to preserve the "user-pays" principle in future Trust Fund revenue agreements. The remainder of the meeting was spent with senators giving short speeches on the need for a long-term surface transportation authorization. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the HTF needs $8 billion to remain solvent until Dec. 31.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Fox at

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