As the May 31 highway and transit authorization deadline approaches, Congress is working on potential new bills. So far, lawmakers haven't located the revenue needed to fund that legislation.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) says he is drafting a bill. "But the driving force behind it is going to be the funding," he says. "We don't want another two-year bill. We want a five- [or] six-year bill."

Shuster told reporters after a Feb. 11 hearing on the need for a new bill that he's waiting for the tax-writing committees, House Ways and Means and Senate Finance, to come up with the revenue to support the highway measure. "We're talking to them on a daily basis, trying to help them figure out where to go for the funding," he notes.

In the meantime, Shuster will hold off on unveiling a proposal that deals with transportation policy provisions and other non-money issues.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who testified at the hearing, has been pushing the Obama administration's revised GROW AMERICA bill, announced on Feb. 2. It would authorize $478 billion over six years and supplement projected Highway Trust Fund income with $248 billion from a proposed 14% tax on U.S. companies' overseas income. "We've got to go big," Foxx urged the House panel.

In a Feb. 12 meeting with reporters, Foxx said, "I think there will always be a role for the user fee, for the gas tax." But he also says that levy has a "structural deficiency" that has led to long- term downward projections.

Unlike the gas tax, the administration's 14% overseas-income tax plan wouldn't generate a sustained, decades-long revenue stream. But Foxx says it could help provide "six years of certainty at [funding] levels that are far greater than today's."

Looking at the 30-year transportation needs, the tax proposal is an attractive option for the next several years, he contends, adding, "It just seems to me that we would be well served to take it."