Advocates pressure House GOP to get moving on roads bill

Transportation advocates are pushing the House to get moving on passing a new long-term highway funding bill as a deadline for the expiration of the spending looms next month. 

Federal infrastructure funding is currently scheduled to expire in Oct. 29, although the transportation has said recently that it has enough money to cover expenses until next June as long as Congress passes a reauthorization of its ability to cut checks. 

Transportation advocates are pressuring the House to ignore the additional wiggle room and pass a long-term highway bill this fall to match a three-year bill that was approved in the summer by the Senate, which was rejected by GOP leaders in the lower chamber this summer. 

"The Senate passed a multi-year surface transportation bill with substantial bipartisan support in July," a group of 69 organizations wrote in a letter to lawmakers. 

"It is now incumbent on the House of Representatives to keep the reauthorization process moving forward to ensure a six year bill is enacted before the latest short-term program extension expires October 29," the letter continued. "The U.S. economy and all Americans require a surface transportation infrastructure network that can keep pace with growing demands. A six-year federal commitment to prioritize and invest in our aging infrastructure and safety needs is essential to achieve this goal." 

The Senate approved a bill - known as the DRIVE Act - that authorized six years of transportation funding. House leaders spurned the measure in part because it only contained enough money to cover three years worth of guaranteed funding, however. 

Republican leaders in the House said at the time that the temporary patch they passed instead would allow them to have more time to craft a fully-funded long-term transportation bill, but they have been mum since returning to Washington last week from a month-long recess. 

The transportation groups said lamented the fact that Congress has not passed a transportation funding bill that last longer than two years since 2005. 

"Temporary program extensions and eight years of recurring Highway Trust Fund revenue crises do not provide a path to future economic growth, jobs and increased competitiveness," the groups said. "We urge you to end this cycle of uncertainty by advocating and voting for a six-year surface transportation program reauthorization bill during 2015." 

The letter was signed by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association; Laborers International Union of North America; American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; National Association of Manufacturers; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Associated General Contractors of America; U.S. Travel Association; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; International Union of Operating Engineers; Building America's Future; National Retail Federation; American Public Transportation Association; American Trucking Association; American Society of Civil Engineers; AAA; American Public Works Association; American Highway Users Alliance; National Ready Mixed Concrete Association; Associated Equipment Distributors; American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association; American Association of Port Authorities; Coalition for America's Gateways & Trade Corridors; National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association; Industrial Minerals Association - North America; National Recreation and Park Association; National Electrical Contractors Association; National Tank Truck Carriers, Inc.; American Concrete Pavement Association; North American Equipment Dealers Association; Transportation Intermediaries Association; Association of Equipment Manufacturers; National Steel Bridge Alliance; Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago; American Institute of Steel Construction; American Concrete Pipe Association; Auto Care Association; American Bus Association; Institute of Makers of Explosives; National Safety Council; National Precast Concrete Association; The National Industrial Transportation League; Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association; National Asphalt Pavement Association; Construction & Demolition Recycling Association; American Council of Engineering Companies; Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute; Governors Highway Safety Association; North America’s Building Trades Unions; National Electrical Manufacturers Association; International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association; Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance; American Traffic Safety Services Association; The Association of Union Constructors; Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association; Asphalt Recycling & Reclaiming Association; International Slurry Surfacing Association; Airports Council International – North America; Corn Refiners Association; American Iron and Steel Institute; National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association; Intelligent Transportation Society of America; NATSO, Representing America’s Travel Plazas and Truckstops; National Association of Development Organizations; National Utility Contractors Association; American Rental Association; Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance; Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute; Motorcycle Riders Foundation and the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association. 

-This story was updated on Sept. 17 to correct an earlier version that misidentified the number of groups that signed the letter.