Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  The U.S. Senate today approved a bipartisan transportation funding amendment offered by U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jim Talent (R-Mo.),and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) which paves the way for the Senate to increase transportation funding. The amendment, which passed 81-19, strikes an item in the budget that takes away the flexibility of the relevant Senate committees to consider a full range of transportation funding options. The amendment passed as part of the Senate Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 18).

“This amendment simply allows the finance committee to have the traditional flexibility that they’ve enjoyed in the past when it comes to evaluating potential revenue streams for transportation spending,” said Sen. Thune. “As a member of the EPW committee that reported the highway bill out this week, this amendment is a critical part of reauthorizing a robust multi-year transportation bill. It is critical that the Congress pass a highway bill that recognizes America’s transportation needs. ”

“All options should be on the table when it comes to funding our transportation infrastructure,” said Sen. Talent. “The House passed a highway bill that wasn’t big enough. It’s now up to the Senate to increase funding for our transportation infrastructure. Our amendment makes certain that when we debate the transportation bill, we can debate it with a full range of funding options. The amendment restores the flexibility to use revenue sources that we have approved in the past, and it gets us out of the box that the current budget traps us in which would make it harder to adequately fund our transportation needs.”

“The SAFE-TEA transportation bill isn’t just critical for our nation’s roads and transit systems – it’s also an important jobs creation bill; for every billion dollars in highway investment, 47,000 good-paying American jobs can be created,” Sen. Stabenow said. “This amendment is essential to ensure that Congress has the flexibility it needs in funding this transportation bill, so that Michigan and all other states can receive the maximum funding for our highway infrastructure needs, transit programs and other transportation projects.”

“Many American roads, bridges and highways need major repairs now to keep travelers safe and our economy moving,” said Sen. Wyden. “In this tough budget situation, Congress will need leeway to find creative solutions for funding the work our transportation infrastructure needs. I am joining Senator Talent on this amendment to help ensure that the Congress can use all the tools at its disposal to pass a meaningful transportation bill without raising gasoline taxes.”

As has been the case in past budget resolutions, the current resolution in the Reserve Fund section allows the Budget Chairman to make adjustments to the allocation for transportation. However, the resolution before the Senate currently restricts the transportation reauthorization funding options available to the Finance Committee.

In the Fiscal 2004 budget resolution, the last one agreed to by both chambers, the Congress agreed to new transportation funding so long as it was offset by an increase in receipts to the Highway Trust Fund.

Without this amendment, the following funding options would be blocked: Interest on the Highway Trust Fund’s unexpended balances, the motor fuels refund reform for over the road and lend-lease vehicles, draw down of the Highway Trust Fund’s balances and other traditional funding options.

The amendment is supported by all the major transportation groups, including AASHTO, Associated General Contractors, the Road Builders and their Transportation Construction Coalition, American Public Transportation Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Heavy Highway Alliance representing the major trade unions.

The amendment is cosponsored by Senators James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), James Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.).