U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow, Jim Talent Win Passage of Budget Resolution Amendment to Maximize Transportation Dollars
The U.S. Senate today by a vote of 81-19 approved a bipartisan amendment by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Jim Talent (R-MO) that will help ensure that a maximum number of highway and transit system dollars - and the flexibility to fund them as needed - are available for Michigan and other states in a new transportation bill.
"The SAFE-TEA transportation bill isn't just critical for our nation's roads and transit systems - it's also an important jobs creation bill; for every billion dollars in highway investment, 47,000 good-paying American jobs can be created," Stabenow said. "This amendment is essential to ensure that Congress has the flexibility it needs in funding this transportation bill, so that Michigan and all other states can receive the maximum funding for our highway infrastructure needs, transit programs and other transportation projects."
"All options should be on the table when it comes to funding our transportation infrastructure," said Talent. "The House passed a highway bill that wasn't big enough. It's now up to the Senate to increase funding for our transportation infrastructure. Our amendment makes certain that when we debate the transportation bill, we can debate it with a full range of funding options. The amendment restores the flexibility to use revenue sources that we have approved in the past, and it gets us out of the box that the current budget traps us in which would make it harder to adequately fund our transportation needs."
As has been the case in past budget resolutions, the current resolution in the Reserve Fund section allows the Senate Budget Committee chairman to make adjustments to the allocation for transportation. However, the budget resolution currently before the Senate restricts the transportation reauthorization funding options available to the Finance Committee.
In the fiscal year 2004 budget resolution - the last one agreed to by both chambers - Congress agreed to new transportation funding as long as it was offset by an increase in receipts to the Highway Trust Fund.
This amendment unlocks some funding options that would otherwise be blocked, including interest on the Highway Trust Fund's unexpended balances, the motor fuels refund reform for over-the-road and lend-lease vehicles, a draw-down of the Highway Trust Fund's balances, and other traditional funding options.
This amendment was endorsed by all the major transportation groups, including AASHTO, Associated General Contractors, the Road Builders and their Transportation Construction Coalition, American Public Transportation Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Heavy Highway Alliance representing the major trade unions.
The amendment was co-sponsored by Senators Max Baucus (R-MT), James Inhofe (R-OK), James Jeffords (I-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), John Thune (R-SD), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).