Boxer challenges Mica on highway funding

ADVERTISEMENT
"A six-year surface transportation bill funded at $286 billion would, in fact, represent a 16 percent cut compared to the $339 billion level, which would put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk."

Mica has argued that transportation funding should be limited to what the Highway Trust Fund that pays for it brings in from federal gas taxes, which is about $35 billion per year. That would put the new six-year transportation bill at about $230 billion.

Boxer and other Democrats have countered that it would be better to pass a shorter transportation bill at higher annual funding levels than a long-term bill that falls short of what they say is necessary. Boxer proposed earlier this year passing a two-year, $109 billion bill.

Advocates generally prefer the higher per-year spending amount of the Senate proposal, but the longer length of the House proposal.

The discussion about a new highway comes as a committee of lawmakers is meeting to find ways to cut trillions of dollars of federal spending by the end of the year. 

That backdrop has rendered talks of increasing highway funding practically mute. The current level of funding, more than $40 billion per year, was extended until March last month. 

Both the House and Senate proposals are far lower than the $556 billion President Obama proposed for a new transportation bill earlier this year.