At a June 18 Capitol Hill news conference, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure released their blueprint for the next surface transportation authorization bill
Source: National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, Alexandria, Va.
At a June 18 Capitol Hill news conference, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure released their blueprint for the next surface transportation authorization bill. Almost immediately, NSSGA leaders hailed Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) for unveiling the six-year, $450-billion Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009. Details of the act were released in a 100-page report outlining policy and procedural reforms that will be included in the bill now being drafted.
Although the legislation was expected to be introduced formally sometime this week, its rollout came just one day after U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood met with Oberstar on behalf of the Obama administration, asking him to refrain from moving forward on it and instead support an 18-month extension of the current law. LaHood indicated a need to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which will otherwise run out as soon as the end of August.
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) echoed LaHood’s call for an extension, while other senators are said to be pushing for a two-year extension. Both options would have the effect of postponing reauthorization until after the 2010 mid-term elections and into the 112th Congress that will convene in January 2011.
NSSGA Chairman Gerard Geraghty, president and CEO, Rogers Group, Inc., said, Improving our transportation systems puts people to work; an extension of the current law, whether for 18 months or two years will not put people back to work or solve our freight road capacity crisis. We need to get America moving now.
Oberstar echoed Geraghty’s thoughts: Delay is unacceptable. Delay casts uncertainty on the program. If we delay the new authorization, states will hold back on new projects, and that will cost jobs. We are not in the business of delay. It is time to move ahead. Ranking Committee member John Mica (R-Fla.) added, This is no time to sidetrack the only bill coming before Congress that will create millions of jobs. I am prepared to move forward in a bipartisan effort to restore our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and put people to work with a bill we have agreed to introduce.