At a Capitol Hill news conference today, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure released their blueprint for the next surface transportation authorization bill.
The announcement came from Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar, and Ranking Member John A. Mica of Florida. They were joined by Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Chairman Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon and Ranking Member John J. Duncan, Jr. of Tennessee.
The Committee's "Big Four" released a 100-page report outlining the policy and procedural reforms that will be included in the surface transportation bill now being drafted. The Transportation Committee expects to have the bill finished and ready for Subcommittee mark-up next week.
Oberstar said he plans to move ahead with the bill despite a statement from the Obama Administration that it wants to delay the new authorization by 18 months.
"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," Oberstar said. "We are not in the business of delay. It is time to move ahead."
"This is no time to sidetrack the only bill coming before Congress that will create millions of jobs," said Mica. "I am prepared to move forward in a bipartisan effort to restore our nation's crumbling infrastructure and put people to work with the bill we have agreed to introduce."
"We are the greatest country in the world, yet our economy is threatened by congestion. The Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 is a transformational bill that will provide clear national transportation objectives and hold states and local governments accountable for how they spend federal transportation funds. Our bill will make our highways safer, improve our roads and transit systems, make our businesses more competitive by reducing their costs due to time spent in traffic, and reduce the amount of time the average person spends in gridlock," DeFazio said.