Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Committee, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, issued the following joint statement today regarding draft legislation to reauthorize the nation's surface transportation programs, entitled Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).
Senators Boxer, Inhofe, Baucus and Vitter said: "We are pleased to announce the great progress we have made on a new transportation authorization bill. Throughout the 25 transportation hearings convened by this Committee, including an unprecedented joint appearance by Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, we heard that there is tremendous support from businesses, workers, and the American people for a transportation bill that leverages our federal dollars while maintaining a responsible fiscal path.
It is no secret that the four of us represent very different political views, but we have found common ground in the belief that building highways, bridges, and transportation systems is an important responsibility of the federal government, in cooperation with state and local governments and the private sector.
We are working to maximize states' ability to plan long term and make wise infrastructure investments. Here are some of the highlights of our legislation:
* Funds programs at current levels to maintain and modernize our critical transportation infrastructure;
* Eliminates earmarks;
* Consolidates numerous programs to focus resources on key national goals and reduce duplicative and wasteful programs;
* Consolidates numerous programs into a more focused freight program that will improve the movement of goods;
* Creates a new section called America Fast Forward, which strengthens the TIFIA program to stretch federal dollars further than they have been stretched before; and
* Expedites project delivery without sacrificing the environment or the rights of people to be heard.
We know there is still much work to do, but we believe this is a very important step. In cooperation with the Finance Committee, we are exploring a wide range of options to support and sustain the Highway Trust Fund. Our goal is to attain the optimum achievable authorization length depending on the resources available. It is critical that this be done in a way that does not increase the deficit and can achieve bipartisan support."