Lipinski, Kirk, Hultgren Issue Bipartisan Call to Extend Surface Transportation Legislation and Avoid a Shutdown, then Pass Overdue Long-Term Reauthorization

In a show of bipartisan, bi-cameral cooperation, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) called on Congress and the President to extend expiring surface transportation legislation and then pass a long-overdue, long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill that will create jobs and boost economic growth. Rep. Lipinski also called on President Obama to take the transportation funding that is part of his short-term jobs plan and devote it to a multi-year surface transportation bill that addresses the nation’s biggest transportation needs.

“Our first order of business should be to extend the expiring surface transportation and aviation funding bills to avoid throwing hundreds of thousands of people out of work,” Rep. Lipinski said. “Once that’s done, we should immediately turn to passing the long-overdue, multi-year surface transportation bill, as I’ve been saying since 2009. Nothing creates jobs as quickly while providing lasting benefits for taxpayers as investing in transportation infrastructure. It’s absurd Washington has failed to act on a long-term bill while we’re in the midst of a jobs crisis.

“This coming Friday, the 21st short-term extension of the FAA authorization will expire and at the end of the month the 7th short-term extension of the nation’s surface transportation law, known as SAFETEA-LU, will lapse. We have been limping along with temporary extensions of the FAA bill since 2007 and temporary extensions of the highway and transit bill since 2009. Our nation cannot afford to continue this Washington gridlock. It is costing us time and money. Lost time sitting in our cars. Lost time sitting on runways. And most importantly, lost jobs at a time we can least afford it.”

A bill to temporarily extend aviation programs through January and highway and transit programs through March was introduced in the House late Friday. Last month the Federal Aviation Administration was shuttered for several weeks amid bickering over extending the program. Approximately 4,000 federal employees were furloughed and $300 million in revenue was lost. A highway and transit program shutdown, which would occur Sept. 30 without action, would be even more devastating, costing the federal government $100 million a day and putting 65,000 Illinois jobs at risk.  

President Obama’s jobs plan includes a one-time shot of $50 billion for transportation, or about 11 percent of the total. That is better than the 2009 stimulus – which Rep. Lipinski did not vote for in part because of its lack of transportation investment – but still inadequate.

“I’m glad the President is finally focusing on jobs, and I’m also glad there are signs of a thaw in Washington that could enable bipartisan cooperation on getting Americans back to work,” Rep. Lipinski said. “But we’ve got to get past the whole stimulus mentality and stop drifting from one quick fix to the next without addressing fundamental issues. The President should put the $50 billion for road infrastructure in his jobs plan toward the overdue, long-term surface transportation bill. And Congress should do its job and pass the most robust and well-targeted long-term bill possible. Kicking the can down the road won’t cut it.”

Lipinski, Kirk, and Hultgren were joined by representatives of the Illinois Road Builders, Local 150 Operating Engineers, Amalgamated Transit Union, Chicago Laborers District Council, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Doug Whitley, and other transportation advocates.

(September 12, 2011)


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