By Bernie Becker - 02/04/11 04:25 PM EST
In a statement released Friday, Baucus said “we simply cannot continue to lead the world economy if we don’t invest in infrastructure, especially our transportation infrastructure.”
If the committee passes the trust fund legislation, the measure would then be offered as an amendment to the bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration that the Senate is currently considering. The Airport and Airway Trust Fund finances the FAA facilities, equipment and other programs.
The last FAA authorization bill expired in 2007, forcing Congress to pass 17 short-term extensions in the interim. At a Finance Committee hearing on the trust fund on Thursday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the panel's ranking member, said it was time for a more long-term approach toward the FAA and that he was looking forward to examining the various air travel-related taxes that are used to fill the airport trust fund’s coffers.
Senate Democrats have cast the FAA reauthorization as the first effort in their 2011 push to create jobs, and President Obama made investment in infrastructure a key theme of his recent State of the Union address. And, according to the Friday release from the Finance Committee, the Treasury Department has estimated that 35,000 jobs are supported by each $1 billion spent on transportation.