Lipinski Urges Congress and the President to Pass a Long-Overdue Transportation Bill that Will Create Jobs, Ease Traffic Congestion, and Spur Economic Growth (August 26, 2011)
Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) called on Congress to act quickly to pass a transportation reauthorization bill that would put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work building badly needed road and transit projects that will boost efficiency and future economic growth. While a robust, six-year bill that provides the certainty and funding levels needed for major projects would be best, a recently proposed bipartisan two-year bill would be a step in the right direction and is far better than the House Republican transportation bill, which cuts transportation funding by roughly a third.
“Even before the last transportation bill expired in 2009, I was calling for passage of a new bill that would create jobs immediately, boost job creation in the future, and help relieve the congestion we face in northeastern Illinois,” Congressman Lipinski said. “While a six-year bill that increases funding has always been my preference, a two-year bill that at least maintains current funding levels would put people to work and help us build a safer, more efficient transportation network. The bottom line is that Congress and the White House should get behind a robust transportation bill as soon as possible. Frankly, this is something that should have been taken up two and a half years ago, but I am happy the President is calling for the bill’s passage now and the Senate appears ready to push at least a two-year bill.”
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) have released an outline of a bipartisan two-year, $109 billion bill that would maintain current transportation funding levels for the next two years without adding to the deficit by relying on the existing federal gas tax and by finding savings in other programs. By contrast, the House Republican bill would cut transportation funding by about a third over six years.
As a proponent of public-private partnerships that can bolster private-sector investment in transportation, Congressman Lipinski is a strong supporter of the two-year bill’s expansion of theTransportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act(TIFIA). This program provides low-cost loans and loan guarantees tofinance major transportation projects. Interest in the program has far exceeded its meager funding, and the two-year bill would increase funding nearly tenfold to $1 billion, enabling projects worth many times that amount to move forward and create jobs.
Roughly every six years, Congress passes a bill to reauthorize funding for transportation. The last such bill expired nearly two years ago, prior to which Congressman Lipinski helped pass a six-year reauthorization blueprint out of the Highway and Transit Subcommittee in June 2009. Unfortunately, at that time the White House and the Senate decided to delay consideration of the bill.
“A transportation bill such as I am advocating would not be a new program or an emergency stimulus, but rather a regularly scheduled reauthorization of a program that has been limping along with temporary extensions,” Congressman Lipinski said. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this proposal and get Americans back to work while boosting our long-term competitiveness. We cannot afford a standoff like the one that recently led to the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration. Nor can we afford to slash funding for our roads, public transit, railways, and bridges, which are desperately in need of improvement and repair.”