Dems call for transportation funding boost in spending bill

Top Democrats on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are urging House and Senate leaders to include an infrastructure funding boost in a short-term spending bill, pointing out that the increase was already paid for and approved by Congress last year.

{mosads}In a letter sent to appropriators Monday, the lawmakers called for any continuing resolution (CR) to reflect the increased investments for highway, highway safety and public transit that were provided in a surface transportation bill in December 2015.

Under the so-called FAST Act, spending on transportation by the Highway Trust Fund was supposed to increase by $2.4 billion in fiscal 2017. But the CR that passed in September continued funding at the fiscal 2016 spending levels.

“Congress came together on a bipartisan basis to enact the FAST act to increase badly needed investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure,” the Democrats wrote. “The CR should provide the increased FAST Act levels to help grow our economy and create family-wage jobs.”

The letter is signed by committee ranking member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

The House GOP is now reportedly pursuing a government funding bill that would extend current levels into March, in an effort to give the incoming administration a chance to weigh in on federal spending levels.

President-elect Donald Trump has long talked about the need to repair the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. The real estate mogul has promised to submit a massive infrastructure package within his first 100 days in office, raising the hopes for a major transportation bill next year.

But the leading transportation Democrats argued that the country’s ailing infrastructure shouldn’t have to wait when Congress already guaranteed a funding bump.

“The time to provide FAST Act funding levels is now, not at the end of March 2017, when the spring construction season will already be underway across the country,” the lawmakers wrote.

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