WASHINGTON – Following a vote by the Senate to face the financial shortfalls of the Highway Trust Fund before the end of this year, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-Md.) joined together to urge the House of Representatives to vote quickly to send this legislation to the president.
“The Highway Trust Fund is a lifeline for Maryland and other states for highway construction and maintenance resources. The Senate’s strong bipartisan vote in favor of an amendment to provide a five month funding extension for our surface transportation programs was the responsible thing to do,” said Senator Cardin. “The bill, as amended, that passed the Senate will keep Maryland construction workers on the job during the summer construction season. importantly, it also should provide Congress sufficient time to pass a long-term reauthorization of our surface transportation programs and responsibly address the insolvency problem that currently faces the Highway Trust Fund.”
“Extending the Highway Trust Fund is critical for Maryland jobs as we work to keep our economy rolling,” Senator Mikulski said. “This extension will keep the federal Highway Trust Fund from going bankrupt on August 1. It will allow the Maryland Department of Transportation to continue to meet its commitments, continue current projects and put shovels to the ground with new projects. Most importantly, this extension will keep 9,000 construction workers in Maryland on the job. But Congress must come together to act on a long-term solution providing certainty and economic security for businesses and jobs. I will continue to fight for long-term investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, supporting jobs today and jobs tomorrow.”
Senators Cardin and Mikulski urge a fiscally prudent resolution that would build upon the work of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s long-term bipartisan reauthorization product (S. 2322). Congress also should continue the important work already underway in the Senate Commerce and Banking committees on their respective portions of the overall surface transportation reauthorization bill. In the Finance Committee, both Republicans and Democrats should resume productive discussions on finding the right combination of user fees to close the estimated $100 billion gap in transportation funding that exists today.
Groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association agree with Senators Cardin and Mikulski and a majority of the Senate that long-term action is needed in 2014 and should not be punted into next year. The funding gap is only going to grow wider, making it more difficult to solve.