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Mr. PETRI. Mr. Speaker, the debate we are having today is not really about the future of the highway trust fund. Unfortunately, today is about doing what Congress does too often--kicking the can down the road, avoiding one crisis while setting up another.
I recognize that more time is often needed to craft a more robust bipartisan solution, the result of which is often well worth the delay, but, Mr. Speaker, we must come to our senses. We must realize that another short-term patch is not really what our State governments are calling for; this is not really what the American Trucking Association or the Chamber of Commerce is calling for; and this is not what the American people sent us here to accomplish.
For close to 50 years, the highway trust fund was self-sustaining. Those who used the roads paid for the roads. But we have been stalled in the 20th century. The fuel tax, which traditionally paid for highway improvements, hasn't been changed since 1993, while construction costs have grown more expensive, cars have become more fuel efficient or run on alternative fuels, and infrastructure needs have continued to rise.
In the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, we have had hearing after hearing where State transportation officials, mayors, Governors, truckers, transit operators, economists, and experts in transportation policy have testified with unwavering support for a long-term, fully funded surface transportation bill. That should be our goal.
But at the end of the day, we can't let the quest for the perfect stand in the way of the good or the acceptable. In this case, we have an obligation to keep our highway projects going, our transportation moving, and our economy growing. Since this is the only option we have today, this is what we will do.
We need to stop the patches and budget gimmicks and come up with a viable, real solution on how we fund the trust fund. History shows that it is hard to do before an election. Perhaps it will be easy to do after that.
So I ask my colleagues to consider this question: Which is the more responsible path, more budget gimmicks or raising revenue to actually pay for needed spending?
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