Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano voted against a temporary 90-day extension of federal funding for transportation projects, instead calling upon the Republican leadership in the House to allow a vote on the comprehensive, two-year, bipartisan transportation bill recently passed by the Senate.
"This temporary stop-gap bill is not enough to create the new jobs and transportation projects we need," Napolitano said. "Ninety days worth of funding is not enough to make long-term plans and hire workers for the spring construction season. The House should instead pass the two-year bipartisan transportation bill that has already passed the Senate, which is the biggest opportunity for job creation we will likely have all year. We should pass the Senate bill, sign it into law, and get people back to work as quickly as possible.
"As it stands now, the Republicans are in control but they have not been able to gather enough support within their own party to pass a highway bill. I support the bipartisan Senate bill, and I cosponsored the House version, which the Democratic leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced last week. I believe that between House Democrats and moderate Republicans, the two-year Senate bill could pass the House if Speaker Boehner allowed a simple up-or-down vote."
Congress traditionally passes a transportation bill every few years to fund highway, rail, and public transit projects across the country. Current funding is set to expire Saturday without a new funding bill from Congress.
The extension, H.R. 4281 the Surface Transportation Act of 2012, passed by a final vote of 266 to 158.
Napolitano is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Without congressional action, federal funding for transportation projects across the country will run out this Saturday, March 31st.
The Senate passed a bipartisan transportation bill on March 14 by a vote of 74 to 22. Their bill provides $109 billion to fund transportation projects across the country for the next two years.
If Republican leadership allowed the House of Representatives to vote on the Senate bill and it passed, President Obama could immediately sign it into law. This would allow work to continue on highway construction projects across the country and give transportation planners the certainty they need to begin budgeting and hiring workers for new projects.
House Republicans had been working their own transportation bill, H.R. 7, which also included oil drilling and other controversial measures, but that process was derailed in February after House Republicans were split on their support for the bill.
On Monday, House Republicans proposed a 90-day extension of current funding but then withdrew it just before votes after it appeared it lacked the support to pass.
On Tuesday, a 60-day extension was proposed. It too was pulled from the legislative calendar at the last minute.
The two earlier attempts were done using the suspension calendar process, which requires a two-thirds vote to pass. Today's vote was conducted by a simple majority.