Today, Rep. Cheri Bustos, Rep. Peter Welch and Rep. Reid Ribble led a bipartisan press conference announcing their effort to break the current impasse over long-term funding for the Highway Trust Fund. If Congress fails to act by the end of the month, federal funding for repairing crumbing roads and bridges across the country will expire.
In a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released at the press conference, lawmakers recommended the use of a "Queen of the Hill' rule which would allow the House to vote on multiple options to fund the federal highway program. Under this procedure, most recently used in the House in March to pass a budget bill, the proposal receiving the most votes would become the position of the House of Representatives.
"I believe wholeheartedly that by investing in our networks of roads, bridges and highways we are creating good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced, and we are making a down payment on our nation's long term economic well-being," said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "I've also long said that our communities and workers deserve the certainty that a long-term highway funding bill provides, which is why I've been so disappointed that Congressional leaders continue to kick the can down the road with unpredictable short-term patches. I commend Representatives Welch and Ribble for leading today's important bipartisan effort to break this impasse and reiterate my call for a vote on long-term solutions."
"America's roads and bridges are crumbling. Potholes don't fix themselves," said Congressman Welch. "It is essential that Congress pass a long term and sustainable revenue source so that state transportation planners have the certainty they need to plan and execute infrastructure projects. Queen of the Hill will end the impasse that has led to a Band Aid approach to our highway program. Road contractors and workers are doing their jobs. It's time for Congress to do ours."
"Our roads and bridges are vitally important but they aren't free, and for the past seven years, the bill has gone unpaid," Congressman Ribble said. "Right now, we are $16 billion short every year in paying for our roads and bridges, which simply creates a future tax on our children and grandchildren. If something is important enough to buy, it is important enough to pay for, and I believe that a "Queen of the Hill" approach would allow the House to consider the approximately ten long-term solutions that have been introduced to finally fix transportation funding. After kicking the can down the road 34 times, it is time for us to get to work on a fiscally sustainable long-term plan."
"As someone who began my career in a family road construction business, I know how important it is that we have a long-term funding plan for transportation at the federal level," Congressman Barletta (R-PA) said. "Without long-term certainty, contractors cannot make hiring decisions or purchase expensive equipment, so it becomes a jobs issue. Also, as a former mayor, I know that localities and states cannot plan for the future and make decisions on projects without some idea if federal funding will come through. I have always supported a Highway Bill of at least five years in length, so I am supporting the "Queen of the Hill' rule to achieve that objective."
"It's irresponsible and short-sighted for Congress to continue ignoring the need to fund the Highway Trust Fund," said Congressman Carney (D-DE). "We need a long-term solution to fixing our nation's infrastructure. There are a lot of good ideas out there -- it's time to take a vote on them."
"We need to stop careening between short-term fixes and bring certainty to the Highway Trust Fund," Congressman Kilmer (D-WA) said. "Our current approach puts construction jobs at risk and jeopardizes projects to make needed repairs on our bridges, highways, and ports. It's time to move this economy --and this Congress -- forward by providing a long term solution to our transportation challenges."
"Investing in our nation's infrastructure is not a Democratic or Republican issue - it is an issue that impacts the millions of Americans who rely on our highways, bridges, and roads every single day," said Congressman Moulton (D-MA). "The Highway Trust Fund is vital to financing transportation projects across the country. Like many things, however, this too has fallen victim to Congress' tendency to govern crisis to crisis. We need a long-term solution to our nation's crumbling infrastructure, which gives our workers, contractors and businesses the certainty they need to rebuild and restore roads and bridges across the country."
"It is long past time for Republicans and Democrats to come together behind a real and enduring plan to fix our nation's crumbling roads, bridges, ports, and transit systems so we can increase growth, overcome wage stagnation, and create jobs," said Congressman Peters (D-CA). "If we don't get ahead of this curve, costly gridlock will severely hamper our economic growth. There are numerous paths to a long-term solution and we should bring them forward for a vote now to provide some much-needed certainty to our communities."