Representatives Aaron Schock (R-IL), Jim Cooper (D-TN), John Carney (D-DE), and Patrick Meehan (R-PA), sent a letter to President Obama urging him to support a fully paid for six-year transportation reauthorization. More than 111 members signed it, including 62 Democrats and 49 Republicans.
The letter states that "short-term extensions fail to recognize that meaningful, large-scale transportation projects take years to plan, approve and implement." States and contractors need a long-term bill in order to execute large projects and repair the nation's crumbling infrastructure.
With the construction industry facing an unemployment rate of 13.3 percent, the members said that "a modern, safe and efficient transportation authorization will not only create jobs now for the construction industry, but it will also set the table for long-term job creation and economic growth."
The bipartisan group expressed their willingness to work with the Administration on funding options for a six-year authorization. The last Surface Authorization bill expired in September 2009 and has been temporarily extended eight separate times. The latest temporary extension is set to expire at the end of March 2012.
"The American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives our transportation infrastructure a grade of "D," said Rep. Schock. "While other sectors of the economy grew during the month of November, the construction industry lost 12,000 jobs. These are the reasons why I have been so vocal for the passage of a long-term highway bill and why we are asking the president to join us and support our efforts. A long-term highway bill is as much about putting people back to work now as it is about investing in our country's infrastructure to entice businesses to expand their operations in the U.S. to sell their products around the world more efficiently."
"Unemployment in the construction industry is higher than 13 percent, and our infrastructure needs repair," Rep. Cooper said. "Let's put Americans back on the job to fix our roads and bridges."
"Repairing our infrastructure is a critical priority, and ignoring this issue is simply not an option," said Rep. Carney. "A six-year transportation bill will create jobs, ease congestion, improve the safety of our roads and bridges, and make America a more attractive place for international companies to grow their business."
"Supporting infrastructure is an investment in America's economic future and will enhance our ability to compete globally," said Rep. Meehan. "More importantly, predictable funding means real and sustained jobs. We cannot allow structurally deficient roads and bridges to further deteriorate. It is time for Congress to pass a fully funded, long-term transportation bill to make our families safer on the roads, improve our quality of life and kick-start our economy."