Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune (R-SD) today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), signed by a bipartisan group of 72 Senators, urging them to ensure that the Continuing Resolution for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2007 includes the funding levels consistent with the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). These funding levels, which Congress committed to by passing SAFETEA-LU in 2005, run the risk of being significantly reduced if Congress funds Highway and Transit investment at last year's funding levels. Such a situation would threaten the creation of 190,000 construction jobs and the viability of important transportation projects that are already being planned by states to improve safety and address transportation infrastructure needs in every state across the country.

"I'm hopeful that the Senate Leadership takes note of a request by more than two-thirds of the Senate and fulfills the commitments made in the 2005 transportation bill, so states can move forward with important transportation projects that make America safer and stronger - not to mention the thousands of jobs that would be lost if Congress cuts the funding that has been promised to each state," Thune said. "Every state is counting on Congress to keep its commitment when it comes to the funding that was agreed to in 2005. It would be unprecedented if Congress prevented states from moving forward with important road, bridge and transit improvements-especially when the money has been set aside in the Highway Trust Fund. Now is not the time for Congress to turn its back on each of our states."

A copy of Senator Thune's bipartisan letter, and a complete list of all Senators who signed the letter, is attached.

Statement from South Dakota Secretary of Transportation Judith Payne:

"We appreciate Senator Thune's diligence in bringing attention to this serious issue. Following through with the full commitment made by Congress in the 2005 Transportation Bill means over $20 million in funding for South Dakota alone. If these funds are delivered as promised, road construction and repair can proceed and over 1000 jobs will be positively impacted," said Payne.

Letter to Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:
The Honorable Harry ReidThe Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority LeaderMinority Leader
528 Hart Senate Office Building       361 A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510WASHINGTON, DC 20610

January 25,2007

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

We write to strongly urge that the upcoming funding resolution for the remainder of fiscal year 2007 supports Congress' commitment to invest in America's transportation infrastructure and ask that the Continuing Resolution include the funding levels consistent with the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). We fear that if the commitments made in SAFETEA-LU are not honored, our States will face major economic disruption that will cost jobs, delay safety improvements and stifle economic growth.

As you know, SAFETEA-LU programs are supported by dedicated user fees which Congress has provided special status in the budget to protect the funding levels
specified in authorizing legislation. American taxpayers should not be denied from receiving the benefits of the monies that they paid into the Highway Trust Fund.

Beyond the principle of protecting the budget status of program levels paid for by users, these programs are highly beneficial. The Administration has estimated that roughly 47,500 jobs are created for every billion dollars of transportation infrastructure investment. So, a reduction from FY 2007 SAFETEA-LU highway and transit levels to FY 2006 appropriated levels will result in a loss of approximately 190,000 construction jobs. And, in addition, there would be lost economic benefits and personal mobility benefits from our having passed up important infrastructure investments.

In recent years, transportation construction inflation has been high - far above the Consumer Price Index. So, a failure to provide the FY 2007 program levels called for in SAFETEA-LU would represent a very significant cut in the program in real terms. Simply put, the SAFETEA-LU dollars have not been able to "go" as far as Congress initially expected. Maintaining FY 2006 funding in FY 2007 will exacerbate that problem.

SAFETEA-LU program funding has always enjoyed broad bipartisan support. In early 2006, the Administration proposed the full SAFETEA-LU funding level for FY 2007. Later in 2006, with bipartisan support, the FY 2007 SAFETEA-LU level was included in the transportation appropriation bills passed by the House and reported by the Senate appropriations committee. So, in calendar 2006 both the Congress and the Administration supported including the full SAFETEA-LU highway and transit program levels for FY 2007 in the FY 2007 appropriations legislation. We urge that the funding resolution provide funding for the Department of
Transportation's highway and transit programs at the levels called for in SAFETEA-LU.


Senator Thune, Senator Baucus, Senator Boxer, Senator Inhofe, Senator Bond,
Senator Dorgan, Senator Dodd, Senator Warner, Senator Isakson,
Senator Bingaman, Senator Lott, Senator Clinton, Senator Tester, Senator Voinovich,
Senator Craig, Senator Cardin, Senator Sanders, Senator Thomas, Senator Crapo,
Senator Conrad, Senator Lieberman, Senator Murkowski, Senator Obama,
Senator Kerry, Senator Grassley, Senator Stabenow, Senator Vitter, Senator Salazar,
Senator Snowe, Senator Landrieu, Senator Kenney, Senator Alexander, Senator Allard,
Senator Feingold, Senator Levin, Senator Coleman, Senator Smith, Senator Biden,
Senator Sessions, Senator Lincoln, Senator Brown, Senator Hutchison, Senator Specter,
Senator Carper, Senator Menendez, Senator Enzi, Senator Burr, Senator Schumer,
Senator Wyden, Senator Roberts, Senator Collins, Senator Lautenberg,
Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Whitehouse, Senator Feinstein, Senator Harkin,
Senator Martinez, Senator Brownback, Senator Akaka, Senator Corker,
Senator Chambliss, Senator Klobuchar, Senator Reed, Senator Bennett, Senator Dole,
Senator Pryor, Senator Hagel, Senator Rockefeller, Senator Casey, Senator Lugar,
Senator Bayh, Senator Hatch