The House approved a six-year, $275-billion highway bill by an overwhelming 357-65 vote, the Wall Street Journal Online reported today. The approval defies President George W. Bush’s threat to veto if Congress does not reduce the bill to mirror the $256-billion price-tag of the White House’s proposal.
Concessions will be needed to close the gap between the House and Senate’s $318 billion version of the bill to present a final version. The final version is expected to come closer to the Senate’s target price tag than President Bush’s proposal, the Wall Street Journal Online said.
Complicating matters, there have been heated debates among representatives over how big a piece of the monetary pie each state is entitled to.
Darrin Roth, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) director of highway operations, told Fleet Owner that highway tolls are an issue the ATA has been most involved with.
Under the Senate’s version of the bill existing interstates may be tolled so long as the revenues are used to reduce traffic congestion or reduce air pollution. With such broad standards “that will virtually allow unlimited tolling,” Roth said.
The House version will allow tolls on newly constructed lanes only to pay for the costs of highway construction.
Even though both House and Senate versions of the bill have passed, President Bush has not backed off on his threat to veto.
“From a political standpoint this raises the question of whether the Congressional Republican leadership would allow to see conflict within its own party,” Roth said.