WASHINGTON, July 7 (UPI) -- Democrats Monday urged their colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put aside their differences and pass a patch before funds run out for transportation projects nationwide.
On a conference call Monday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats and Republicans must both treat filling the $10 billion-shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to dry up at the end of the month, as a top priority in the coming weeks.
"We have to. It is a necessity for the economy of this country, for our infrastructure and for everything else, to come to an agreement before the trust fund runs out," Schumer said. "To let the trust fund run out at time when we need jobs, we need the economy going, would be a disgrace."
The trust fund, which fuels transportation projects from collected gas tax receipts, will see its budget shrink on October 1, in the new fiscal year. Without a patch, about 700,000 jobs will be affected.
Schumer was joined Monday by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Mark Warner, D-Va., as well as former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, in calling for a short-term fix to float August and September, which would give Congress time to agree on a multi-year authorization.
The New York Democrat said "signs were looking good" that Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., could agree on a compromise.
Wyden's current proposal drops a heavy vehicle use tax hike of $1.3 billion, but adds a provision that would move $750 million to the trust fund from another fund that deals with leaking underground fuel tanks.