May 20, 2014
From television news to print stories to blog posts, Infrastructure Week 2014 netted a lot of media coverage and raised the public level of awareness regarding transportation needs and funding, but there is still much work to do.
The event followed the introduction of President Obama’s $302 billion, four-year bill, the GROW AMERICA Act (Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America Act). The Administration says the measure could be fully funded by implementing $150 billion in corporate tax reforms, but many pundits have nixed the likelihood of such complex changes being approved in a timely manner.
Next, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act on May 15. The $252 billion, six-year bill would extend funding levels of MAP-21 at current levels, but makes adjustments for inflation. It leaves the issue of funding the measure to the Senate Finance Committee.
It’s encouraging to see these groups offer their opening viewpoint on the transportation debate. It’s particularly gratifying to see a Senate committee work together in a bipartisan manner. With an overall approval rating of only 16 percent, the public is clearly tired of squabbling on Capitol Hill and wants Congress to address the nation’s challenges.
With MAP-21 set to expire on Sept. 30 and the Highway Trust Fund expected to hit zero balance by Aug. 29, transportation funding is clearly one of those challenges.
It’s time for Congress and the administration to work collaboratively on an achievable, passable, long-term solution. For too many cycles, Congress punted with short-term extensions. MAP-21 provided two years for Congress to address this issue, and it’s time for them to demonstrate that they used the time wisely.
On June 10-11, the Transportation Construction Coalition will host a fly-in of members of more than 30 national associations. The overarching goal is to educate new members of Congress and remind veteran members about how important infrastructure spending is to the nation’s economy. The event will feature a legislative briefing, the annual Rally for Roads, and visits to members of Congress.
I encourage you to take a couple of days to make this trip and express your concerns to Congressional representatives. The theme of the event says it all: The Time is Now: Fix the Highway Trust Fund!