Carper launching bridge tour to push for longer highway bill

Carper launching bridge tour to push for longer highway bill
© Getty Images

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Appeals court agrees to pause lawsuit over Trump-era emissions rule Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan MORE (D-Del.) is planning to visit a trio of bridges in his state on Thursday to make the case for Congress to approve a long-term transportation funding bill when lawmakers return to Washington in September.

In one of their final acts in July before they left for their traditional August recess, lawmakers approved a temporary $10.8 billion transportation bill that was intended to carry infrastructure funding through next spring.

Carper had pushed for a multi-year transportation funding bill and his office said Tuesday that he would visit Delaware's Christina River Bridge, Route 1 and Front Street Overpass and Route 26 on Thursday to make the case for a longer round of infrastructure spending.


"On Thursday, August 28, 2014, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, will tour critical transportation projects across the state that may not move forward unless Congress approves a long-term transportation bill by the end of the year," the Delaware senator's office said.

"Earlier this summer, the Senate approved a measure that extends transportation authorization and funding only through the end of May 2015, leaving state and local governments without the certainty they need to make smart investments in upgrading our country's transportation infrastructure," Carper's office continued. "Sen. Carper will be joined by state and local leaders and stakeholders."

Other Democrats are likely to follow Carper's lead in trying to make the lack of long-term transportation funding a campaign issue when Congress returns to Washington in September.

Most Republicans have resisted efforts to push for an increase in the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax, which Congress uses to pay for transportation projects.

The gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and it has struggled to keep pace with infrastructure expenses as cars have become more fuel efficient.

The federal government typically spends about $50 billion per year on road and transit projects, but the gas tax only brings in about $34 billion per year at its current rate.

Congress has turned to using revenue from other areas of the federal budget to close the gap in recent years. The latest transportation funding stopgap relies heavily on money from so-called "pension smoothing" and revenue from increasing U.S. custom fees to generate enough money to pay for eight months of transportation funding.

Carper has pushed for a gas tax increase to reduce the reliance on other areas of the federal budget to pay for transportation projects.