Rep. Tom Reed sides with Senate Democrats to go after unpaid taxes to support highway trust fund

Courtesy of Tom Reed
July 14, 2014

New York Republican Congressman Tom Reed is getting behind a proposal to shore up the highway trust fund. But, some Washington Republicans say that plan is bad policy.

The people who maintain the roads and bridges we rely upon may soon run out of federal money. Senate Democrats are pushing a bill that raises the needed funds by collecting unpaid taxes.

However, House Republicans reject the proposal, saying they don’t want new revenue. In the House they want to raise money with customs fees and by changing the pension payments made by employers. That's the plan Reed supports.

“So I think we’re taking the right steps in the right direction and it averts these loss of jobs that are coming down the pipeline if we don’t do anything," says Reed.

Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker called the House proposal “shameful” and “cowardly.” He argues it steals money from future generations. Corker and a bipartisan group of lawmakers say an increase in the gasoline tax would provide a long-term solution.

Reed rejects that. He’d rather give companies with holdings overseas a temporary tax “holiday” and infuse the resulting revenue into roads and bridges, but only after this pending crisis is patched.

“You know this is, it’s obviously a short-term—this is isn’t the best ideal situation," says Reed. "I’m very interested in a long-term solution and we’ll continue to keep working at it, but this gives up that time to get that done.”

The clock is ticking. The federal Department of Transportation warns there are just weeks left until it must slow the flow of checks to states. That means there’s little time for this Congress to deal with the long term proposals and they still remain divided over a short term patch.