Funding for highways across the U.S. may be rescinded if Congress fails to act, says Transportation Secretary Buck Limehouse. Congress has already agreed to take back $8.7 billion that had been appropriated to federal highways meaning South Carolina stands to lose their portion of those appropriations totaling $145 million in contract authority. Limehouse has encouraged Congress to re-think the rescission. Department of Transportation Spokesman Michael Covington says that future highway funding needs to be addressed by Congress.
“The answer will be to find a way to shore up the highway trust fund and, in fact, Congress is debating a $27 billion shoring up of that fund,” said Covington, “rather than adjusting the gas tax or other things they could do. They’re also looking for other ways to fund highways in the future now that cars are getting away from fossil fuels and what have you.”
Covington says the rescission could limit the DOT’s ability to prioritize projects. “The rescission we’re facing this year will require us to take an across the board cut in all of the program areas,” he said.
“That means we will not be able to choose priorities and, if that happens, we may have to actually de-obligate some projects we have already approved. That’s why the secretary–Secretary Limehouse–is encouraging Congress to kind of re-think their decision on this.”
Since 2002, there have been 10 rescissions by Congress. If they do not reconsider their 11th rescission, it would total nearly $270 million for South Carolina.