Feds push for more money in highway talks

Feds push for more money in highway talks
© Anne Wernikoff

Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxTo address America's crumbling infrastructure, follow Britain's lead Report: Chao has used government planes seven times this year Week ahead in tech: Lawmakers turn focus to self-driving cars MORE is pushing lawmakers to boost the funding for infrastructure projects in upcoming House and Senate negotiations on a new highway bill. 

Lawmakers are going to conference soon over a multiyear highway funding package after the House passed a six-year, $325 billion bill on Thursday that contains three years worth of guaranteed road and transit funding.

The Senate similarly passed a bill that contains three years worth of transportation funding in July, and lawmakers are expected to try to meld the measures quickly to beat a Nov. 20 deadline for renewing federal infrastructure spending. 

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Foxx said after the House vote on Thursday that lawmakers should try to find the money for the additional three years of transportation funding and also to increase the amount that is doled out to states for construction projects each year. 

"After 35 short term extensions, the long winter of uncertainty may finally be coming to an end," Foxx said in a statement. 

"The country has been hungry for Democrats and Republicans to come together to fix our roads, unlock stronger economic growth and prepare our nation for a brighter future," he continued. "As this issue moves to conference, all of us should work together to make the final measure a true six year bill with funding growth that puts America in a position to win the future." 

The highway bill that was approved by the House on Thursday calls for spending $261 billion on highways and $55 billion on transit over six years. The legislation authorizes highway funding for six years, but only if Congress can come up with a way to pay for the final three years. The bill was approved in a 363-64 vote.

The Senate passed similar legislation that contained three years' worth of guaranteed highway funding in July, and lawmakers in both chambers have said they are eager to get to conference.  

Foxx said lawmakers should find ways to boost the level of annual spending on transportation projects in negotiations. 

"At the funding levels proposed in both the House and Senate bills, the result will be more traffic," he said. "I urge Congress to do more than minimum funding and to help us raise, not lower, the bar on safety. We're as close as we've been in years to a long-term bill. Make it count, make it as good as the American people deserve.”