The House of Representatives passed a $10.8 billion transportation bill Tuesday that will fund the Highway Trust Fund through May 2015. The bill passed by a vote of 367 to 55. The fund is on track to run out of money Aug. 1 if the Senate is unable to reconcile their version of the bill and get it to President Obama before Congress goes home for the remainder of the summer.
President Obama was in McLean, VA earlier yesterday where he once again blasted Congress for their inaction on passing bills but rather finding time to file lawsuits. During a more somber moment, Obama took the opportunity to get in the seat of an automobile simulator at the Turner-Fairbanks Highway Research Center where he actually felt the sensation of driving a car for the first time in six years.
During the simulator experience, Obama critiqued the House plan as "kicking the can down the road for a few months, careening from crisis to crisis when it comes to something as basic as our infrastructure." Obama was hoping for a long-term solution to the nation’s infrastructure problems but appeared to be satisfied that something finally came out of the House.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) defended the bill stating: "If the president has a plan for a longer-term highway bill, he ought to get the Democratic-controlled Senate to pass it and we'll take a look at it," Boehner said. "But until then, giving speeches about a long-term highway bill is frankly just more rhetoric."
With the division of the Republican and Democrat leaders on how the plan would be paid for, the Democrats will more than likely accept the plan out of the House with some tweaking. Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.), who has proposed raising the gas tax to fix the highway fund said of the House bill: "There's pretty broad bipartisan agreement that there's not going to be a magic funding source that's going to grow out of a tree between now and next spring.”