Lipinski to Speaker Boehner: Time to Capitalize on the Momentum for a Robust, Bipartisan, Job-Creating Transportation Reauthorization Bill
Today, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) sent House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and other House leaders a letter urging them to take advantage of the growing support on both sides of the aisle for passing a robust, bipartisan, job-creating transportation reauthorization bill. Lipinski’s call is being echoed by business, labor, and local government leaders.
“The paralysis on Capitol Hill has left many Americans understandably pessimistic about the chances for action on jobs,” said Rep. Lipinski, the most senior Chicago-area member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. “But behind the scenes, support has been building on both sides of the aisle for finally passing a transportation reauthorization more than two years after the last long-term bill expired. Today, I’m urging Speaker Boehner and the rest of the House leadership to make sure they don’t miss this golden opportunity for boosting job growth in a fiscally responsible way. As I have argued for almost three years, a fully paid-for, robust, multi-year transportation reauthorization bill is the best boost we can give our economy right now, for the short term and long term. A six-year reauthorization that cuts funding by more than 30 percent will not get the job done, and neither will a short-term stimulus.”
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $1 billion of transportation investment creates and supports almost 28,000 jobs. With job growth having slowed in recent months and $1.3 trillion needed to bring our surface transportation infrastructure up to a state of good repair, passage of a new bill is urgent.
Every four to six years, Congress passes a surface transportation “reauthorization” bill – major transportation legislation that sets policy and provides funding for investments in America’s roads, highways, bridges, and public transit. However, the last long-term bill expired in September 2009. Passing short-term extensions of the expired legislation, as Congress has already done eight times since then, makes it difficult for states to undertake major projects due to the uncertainty over funding.
Rep. Lipinski has been pushing for action on a transportation bill since he brought the Highway & Transit Subcommittee to Chicago in October 2007 for the first hearing on reauthorizing the transportation bill. Under the last transportation reauthorization bill Illinois received nearly $9.7 billion in funding.
“Almost two years ago, Rep. Lipinski brought myself and many others together to call for passage of a transportation reauthorization bill,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Whitley. “Today, it’s high time Congress took action. Passing a robust, multi-year transportation bill would put countless people to work building critical infrastructure projects. But just as importantly, it would enhance long-term economic growth by reducing congestion and increasing business efficiency for many years to come. It’s a fiscally responsible, forward-looking way to get our economy moving, and I commend Rep. Lipinski for his leadership in continuing to push this issue in Washington.”
“We’ve been kicking the can down the road long enough,” said James Connolly, Business Manager of the Laborers’ District Council of Chicago and Vicinity. “If we don’t fix our roads and bridges with a sustainable, long-term, well-funded capital bill soon, we’re going to run out of road to kick that can down. Let’s not simply use a band-aid approach of multiple, short-term extensions of SAFETEA-LU. We need leadership, and that’s why the Laborers are proud to have a leader like Rep. Lipinski. He recognizes the urgency of this issue and works tirelessly to get both sides of the aisle together to pass a robust, multi-year transportation reauthorization bill. Congress must realize that if America is going to compete in this global economy, America must invest in its infrastructure.”
“A modern transportation system that gets people and goods where they need to go in a timely fashion is critical for the Chicago region’s present and future prosperity,” said Jerry Bennett, mayor of Palos Hills and Chair of the Board of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. “But the system we have was built decades ago and is in desperate need of investment. Passing a robust transportation reauthorization is absolutely critical to meeting the challenges we face and keeping our region competitive in the 21st Century. Rep. Lipinski has pushed continually for this legislation and I’m pleased to join him in urging Congress to seize this opportunity and take action.”
In the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee is scheduled to consider next week a $109 billion, two-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that has strong bipartisan support and is evidence of the growing push to pass a reauthorization. This week, the Senate also reportedly will take up the transportation component of President Obama’s jobs bill, although that legislation is not expected to pass, with many lawmakers and transportation stakeholders preferring a long-term reauthorization. Meanwhile, the House has shown little enthusiasm for a proposal made in July to cut transportation funding by 30 percent over six years, demonstrating that Members understand a different approach is needed. Rep. Lipinski believes funding should be increased or at the very least kept level.
“Providing adequate funding for transportation that members of both parties can agree on will require hard work and some compromise,” Rep. Lipinski said. “But the alternative is doing nothing, and that’s simply unacceptable, as more and more members of Congress have come to realize. The American people have waited long enough for action to promote job growth and address the congestion that costs our country more than $100 billion annually.”
(November 1, 2011)
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