U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., proposed a budget point of order against the pending two-year highway reauthorization bill (S.1813) for violating spending restrictions in place for this year. According to the point of order, S. 1813 as amended will exceed the aggregate level of budget authority and outlays for the fiscal year 2012. These limits were laid out in a “deemed” budget resolution approved along with the Budget Control Act of 2011. The point of order was defeated on a motion to waive 66 to 31.
“We do need to spend money on highways, so let's spend less on something else. Last August, the whole world watched as our country was brought to the brink in order for Congress to finally put strict limitations on spending for just two years, and barely seven months later, members have already violated that agreement with this highway bill,” Corker said. “By voting to waive this point of order, members on both sides of the aisle have demonstrated to the American people that they can’t be trusted to keep even modest commitments to reduce spending.”
The highway bill currently authorizes $109 billion in spending over the next two years but uses budget gimmicks to pay for it over the next decade without fixing an ongoing shortfall in the highway trust fund. Three times since 2008, Congress has spent more on highways than the trust fund could support, requiring transfers of $35 billion from general revenue to pay for the additional spending, which contributes to the deficit. Corker will make additional attempts next week to responsibly pay for the highway bill extension.