The federal government has warned states that the Highway Trust Fund is running short.

WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., on Tuesday proposed a massive transfer of general-fund tax dollars to shore up beleaguered transportation funding until next April.

With 117,000 projects and 700,000 jobs on the line this summer, Camp moved to provide a stopgap to keep highway and transit funding alive when the traditional source, the Highway Trust Fund, begins to run short of money next month.

Federal officials had alerted states that money they expected from Washington would begin to diminish Aug. 1 because trust fund revenue, which comes primarily from taxes on fuels, no longer was sufficient to pay the bills.

Camp’s proposal would bring almost $11 billion more to the trust fund. Most of it – $9.9 billion – would come from the general fund.

The transfer would be offset by savings from a process called “pension smoothing,” and by extending customs user fees.

The trust fund’s decline has been forecast for years, and the two-year transportation bill passed in 2012 required a $21 billion infusion from the general fund. Camp wants to add more than $11 billion in general-fund money to stave off the immediate crisis and keep money flowing after the two-year bill expires Oct. 1.

“While it doesn’t provide as much funding as I would like – enough to get through the end of next year – it does give Congress and the tax-writing committees ample time to consider a more long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund,” Camp said.

For years, congressional leaders have sought to pass an ambitious, long-term plan to finance the nation’s major roads, rail and aviation construction projects, but long-standing fiscal policy disagreements have stunted any progress.

“I prefer something real long-term because it’s very hard for state directors of transportation to determine what they’re going to do, how they’re going to do it if they have very short-term funding,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. said. He conceded, however, that an ambitious plan probably isn’t going to materialize.

With pressure growing earlier this year, the White House considered allowing states to collect tolls on interstates. The proposal, contained in a four-year, $302 billion transportation bill, would have reversed a long-standing federal prohibition on most interstate tolling. But the idea quickly earned widespread criticism.

The impasse has caught the attention of state and local governments, which on Monday sent a letter to House and Senate leaders arguing that the nation’s economic vitality rests on ensuring the money is there to complete construction projects.

The letter was signed by the “Big 7” – the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governors Association, the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International City/County Management Association.

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