The Environment and Public Works Committee approved a highway bill today that would keep federal highway programs going for the next six years that “largely maintains the status quo and avoids controversial new proposals.” But in trying to avoid controversial proposals, lawmakers have evidently also bypassed necessary innovation.
The Environment and Public Works Committee approved a bill that would keep transportation spending at current levels, plus inflation, in a rare burst of bipartisan bonhomie, with Democrats and Republicans lavishing praise on each other. No one spoke against the measure, which passed on a voice vote.
No one in Congress, that is. Emily Goff, a transportation policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, listed several reasons the legislation will be harmful.
As bland an issue as the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) may seem, the fact that it’s teetering on the edge of bankruptcy makes it a little spicier. As President Obama put it earlier this year in St. Paul, Minnesota, “We could see construction projects stop in their tracks, machines sitting idle, workers off the job.”
He was echoed by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 7%, Senate Budget Committee chairman, who said, “We’re already seeing some consequences from this crisis,” in reference to several Arkansas construction projects that have been put on hold. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for these transportation woes?
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) N/A% gave a shout out to Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) 79% and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% for introducing the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) at CPAC Thursday.
Want better roads for all states without raising taxes?
That’s what Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) 79% promised us at the Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit if his bill, the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) (H.R. 3486) becomes law. He said his bill will “make life better for every day Americans,” and he made a compelling case.
The Transportation Empowerment Act (S.1702) would turn back control of the federal highway program (including transit) to the states by incrementally decreasing the federal gas tax and the size of the federal program, and in turn empower the states to fund and manage their transportation programs and priorities.
Currently, American motorists and truckers pay a federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon at the pump; the money is funneled into the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and funneled back to the states via complex congressional formulas, and billions are diverted each year to programs that do not improve congestion or increase mobility.
The Transportation Empowerment Act would empower states by allowing them to keep and control their gasoline tax revenues, set their infrastructure priorities, control their transportation decisions, and partner with the private sector to meet local needs.
Use this form to email your Senators with the message that the Transportation Empowerment Act should be supported: