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Federal Highway Funds Depleting As Congress Stall Over Solution

| Jul 01, 2014 06:41 PM EDT

The Obama administration warned states on Tuesday that federal highway funds will be largely depleted in August, limiting the money states can expect to pay for road and bridge projects this summer, according to The Associated Press.

The political stalemate in Congress over transportation spending means drivers will have to endure more potholes and detour around more unsafe bridges, delaying commutes, excursions and the delivery of products to market, the AP reported.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told states the government will slow federal reimbursement for highway repairs in August as the U.S. Highway Trust Fund drops below a critical threshold next month, according to the AP. The fund is replenished by gas tax revenues, which have dried up as Americans have driven less and used more fuel-efficient cars.

Normally, states are given an allotment of funds that they are allowed to draw on throughout the year, the AP reported.

"States will be paid, not as they send their bills in, but every two weeks as money from the gas tax comes in," Foxx said, according to the AP.

Foxx and President Barack Obama both urged Congress to replenish the fund by ending tax breaks and using the revenues to set aside money to repair the nation's infrastructure, the AP reported. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated needs for highway repair at $8.1 billion for the rest of the year.

Obama blasted congressional Republicans for dragging their feet in approving funding for highway and bridge repairs, according to the AP. "The Republican obstruction is not just some abstract political stunt. It has real and direct consequences for middle-class families across the country," he said.

"Soon, states may have to choose which projects to continue and which ones to put the brakes on because they're running out of money," Obama said, speaking at the Francis Scott Key Bridge between the District of Columbia and Virginia, a span that has been rated structurally deficient, according to the AP.

If Congress remains stuck over the issue, the consequences could be huge, halting or slowing work on thousands of projects, the AP reported. This could idle hundreds of thousands of workers at a time when the U.S. economy is finally gaining some traction.

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