Street Department Bracing for Big Budget Hit

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Ed Brookshier
Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier, left, says Congress is playing partisan politics with the nation's transportation system.

The Hermiston Street Department – and street departments across the country – are bracing to take a huge budget hit if Congress fails to extend funding for the Highway Trust Fund.

Hermiston stands to lose as much as a quarter million dollars if the funding isn’t extended. The House of Representatives is scheduled today to vote on a bill that would provide nearly $11 billion to extend highway funds through May 2015. If the bill doesn’t pass, the Hermiston Street Department will lose about 20 percent of its budget – money used to maintain the city’s streets throughout the year.

On Monday, the Hermiston City Council passed a resolution urging Congress to pass a long-term funding bill for the Highway Trust Fund.

“I frankly find it irresponsible in the extreme that the U.S. Congress is playing partisan politics with something as bedrock critical to our collective safety and economic well-being as our nation’s surface transportation system,” Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier said in a memo to the council.

The bill up for a vote in the U.S. House today was authored by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) And while the bill has bipartisan support, it is not without its opponents. Two anti-spending groups, Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America – have come out against the bill and have threatened to cause trouble for Republicans who vote for it. But with primary season over, House Republicans are less worried about conservative challengers.

On the Senate side, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch have drafted a competing bill to provide funding for the Highway Trust Fund.

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