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The Senate on Feb. 9 approved, by a vote of 85 to 11, a motion to proceed to the Highway Investment, Job Creation and Economic Growth Bill of 2012, which would renew highway taxes through fiscal year 2015 and direct the tax revenue to the Highway Trust Fund.

Senate Turns Attention to Highway Bill

  • 2/15/2012

Senate Turns Attention to Highway Bill

The Senate on Feb. 9 approved, by a vote of 85 to 11, a motion to proceed to the Highway Investment, Job Creation and Economic Growth Bill of 2012, which would renew highway taxes through fiscal year 2015 and direct the tax revenue to the Highway Trust Fund. The $109 billion measure extends the current 18.3-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline and special motor fuels, the 24.3-cents-per-gallon tax on diesel and kerosene, and other taxes on heavy vehicles and tires.

The bill contains a $10.5 billion tax title approved by the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 7, but remains approximately $2.6 billion short of approved offsets.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., promised to make up the difference through the amendment process on the Senate floor. The revenue portion of the bill would transfer additional tariff revenue to the Highway Trust Fund and treat distributions of debt securities in a tax-free spin-off transaction in the same manner as distributions of cash or other property. It would also allow taxpayers to claim and carry forward a 50-cents-per-gallon credit but not the $1.01-per-gallon cellulosic tax credit for black liquor produced prior to Jan. 1, 2010.

Baucus said during the committee’s markup that he would alter the black liquor provision as several members argued that it would ultimately harm the economy.

The White House supports Senate passage of the highway bill. “This legislation will provide more certainty to states and localities as they undertake the long-term planning and execution of projects and programs that are essential to creating and keeping American workers in good paying jobs, improving the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure, and ensuring roadway safety,” the administration said in a written policy statement.

The House is currently considering the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Bill of 2012 (HR 7), a five-year, $260-billion transportation measure that will eventually have to be reconciled with the Senate version.

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