Boxer 'heartened' by House highway bill markup

Boxer 'heartened' by House highway bill markup
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Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerTrump decries 'defund the police' after Boxer attacked Former Sen. Barbara Boxer attacked in California Bottom line MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday she is "heartened" by the decision by Republican leaders in the House to mark up a long-term transportation funding bill. 

GOP leaders in the House scheduled a highway bill markup hearing on Oct. 22, just days before the scheduled expiration of the nation's infrastructure spending on Oct. 29.

Boxer said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that the lower chamber "must pass a multi-year transportation bill without delay," noting that the Senate has already passed a measure that contains three years worth of guaranteed road funding.

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"I know you are completely aware that in 16 days, the Highway Trust Fund will no longer be authorized to function," she wrote. "This crisis requires all of us to join hands across the aisle to ensure we pass a multi-year surface transportation bill and do it in a way that is funded." 

Boxer and other Senate Democrats have pressured House Republicans to pass a six-year highway bill after they rejected a multi-year highway bill from Senate known as the DRIVE Act during the summer, because it contained six years' worth of transportation commitments but only three years' worth of guaranteed funding.  

Boxer noted in her leader to Boehner and Pelosi on Wednesday that the Senate passed its multiyear highway bill by a wide margin this summer. 

"Despite the fact that we are going through some very difficult partisan moments in Congress right now, the Environment and Public Works Committee, on which I serve as Ranking Member under the leadership of Chairman Jim Inhofe [R-Okla.], was able to vote unanimously out of Committee a good surface transportation bill," she wrote.

"On July 30th, the Senate passed the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act), a six-year authorization of our surface transportation programs with three years of funding, by a vote of 65 to 34," Boxer continued.  

Despite the Senate's successful highway bill vote, the House refused to take up the measure. The lower chamber instead passed a three-month highway bill that is set to expire on Oct. 29, legislation the Senate was forced to accept to prevent an interruption in federal transportation spending. 

Transportation advocates often complain that Congress has not passed an infrastructure measure that lasts longer than two years since 2005 due to a highway funding shortfall that is estimated to be $16 billion annually.

Boxer said she is confident the House will pass a bill to end the stretch of temporary transportation funding bills. 

"I served for 10 years in the House of Representatives, and I know the House can pass a strong transportation bill," she wrote. 

"Both Transportation Committee Chairman [Bill] Shuster [R-Pa.] and Ranking Member [Peter] DeFazio [D-Ore.] are seasoned legislators, and I know with your leadership we will get the job done," Boxer continued. "I stand ready to help."