Congress Has to Get to Work on 3 Critical Issues

October 18, 2015 Updated: July 9, 2020

Dear Editor,

Passing a continuing resolution to keep the federal government open until December 2015 was just a temporary fix. Both the president and Congress need to work together between now and December to deal with three critical issues which impact everyone.

The most recent extension of the National Highway Trust Fund (NHTF) authorization will expire on Oct. 29. This vital funding source is used to pay for both highway and transit projects.

Past presidents and Congress have been more interested in winning another term in office. They have repeatedly kicked this can down the road. The national gasoline tax is used to support the NHTF. It was last raised to 18.4 cents in 1993. With gasoline at record low prices (under $3.00 per gallon), this a good time to raise the federal gas tax by just pennies per gallon. This action could fully fund the NHTF and its Mass Transit Account on a permanent basis.

Our national debt ceiling will expire on Nov. 5. Washington will still have enough tax revenue coming in to pay for critical bills. These include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans, National Defense, Homeland Security, FBI, federal courts, prisons, and other essential functions. Any increase in the debt ceiling needs to be matched by spending cuts. This is necessary to reach a balanced budget within several years rather than wait a decade or more.

The temporary spending bill to fund Washington will expire on Dec. 11. Budget hearings should be held for each department. This should be followed by separate up or down votes to fund each department until Sept. 30, 2016.

Everyone has family, so feel free to take off Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah. Otherwise, the president, Congress, and their respective staffs need to be at work every day between now and the end of December to complete the people’s business. Forget about any traditional Thanksgiving week or two-week December vacations until all these important issues are resolved.

Sincerely,

Larry Penner
Great Neck, N.Y.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.