Lawmakers push for six-year highway bill

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers argued for a six-year federal highway bill, saying an agreement between Democrats and Republicans was in reach.

Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and John Carney (D-Del.) said in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" television show that it was time for Congress to move on transportation.

"We're trying to find a way to pay for a payroll tax extension," Schock said. "If we're going to do that, why is it that when it comes to a five- or six-year infrastructure bill, which is going to cost about $400 billion, we say we don't have the money. If it's a priority, we'll find the money for it." 

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Carney agreed.

"We can work together," he said. "The challenge is going to be what are the pay-fors. Historically, these would be the kind of things that frankly you borrow for."

The lawmakers were touting a letter calling for passage of the highway bill they said has garned 110 signatures.

"All we need is 218," to move forward with a bill, Schock said. 

He made the case that a surface transportation bill, which traditionally funds highway and road projects using money generated by the federal gas tax, would be different than other stimulus efforts by the Obama administration.

"A lot of conservatives and Republicans will ask 'Haven't we spent a lot of money on infrastructure?,' and the fact of the the matter is no, we haven't, despite the president's rhetoric," he said.

Schock said only 8 percent of the $897 billion 2009 stimulus was spent on infrastructure. He blamed the delay on the highway bill on the president persuing other initiatives, like healthcare reform, early in his term.

"If you interviewed [former Democratic Transportation Committee Chairman] Jim Oberstar back then, you'll remember he was quite animated, saying 'this is the time to do a transportation bill,' " Schock said.

But he and Carney argued on "Morning Joe" Wednesday that now was the time for it to happen. 

"We paid for all sorts of things this year," Schock said. "Where there's a will, there's a way."

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