300 Congressmen May Sign Lipinski Letter Urging Road, Transit Funding
Crain's Chicago Business
Is a decade-long logjam over federal highway and transit spending finally about to break?
A letter to House leadership that's being circulated by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Chicago, and some top Republicans suggests that pressure for action truly is starting to build.
But it's not clear that a solution—finding a reliable revenue source that conservative Republicans can live with—is at hand.
According to Lipinski's office, the letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will have "about 300" signatures by the time it's finalized and sent tomorrow. Reportedly included: every member of the Illinois House delegation on both sides of the aisle, except for Wheaton's Peter Roskam. The Republican generally doesn't sign leadership letters.
Three hundred of the House's 435 members would be impressive. And the language of the letter is fairly stern.
'UNCERTAINTY IMPEDES GROWTH'
The signers are "troubled by the significant uncertainty that has plagued federal highway and transit policy in recent years," the letter states. "In the last decade, there have been nine short-term extensions of highway and transit programs. This kind of uncertainty impedes economic growth and makes it difficult for our country to fulfill its competitive potential."
It goes on to note that the latest extension is due to expire May 31. "Now is the time to end the cycle of short-term extensions that kick the can down the road. . . .We support efforts to develop a long-term sustainable revenue source for our nation's transportation network as soon as possible."
One co-author of the letter is Reid Ribble, a Wisconsin Republican who serves with Lipinski on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Top signers, I'm told, include House Ways and Means Committee member Tom Reed, R-N.Y.
What the letter obviously dances around is how to get the money. President Barack Obama recently unveiled a $478 billion proposal to tax overseas income of U.S.-based companies. But while a few Republicans have floated similar ideas, most appear to oppose this one.
Still, it's news when 300 congressmen agree on anything these days.
Something has to happen before the end of May. It's just not clear what.
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