Transportation funding boost on hold

Transportation funding boost on hold
© Greg Nash

An infrastructure funding boost that was approved and paid for by Congress last year is once again on hold because of a short-term spending bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

Under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act passed in December 2015, investments in Highway Trust Fund transportation projects were supposed to increase by $2.4 billion starting in fiscal 2017.

But House leaders unveiled another continuing resolution (CR) on Tuesday evening that would continue fiscal 2016 spending levels through the end of April.

Supporters of the funding boost say states that were banking on the increase will now approve fewer projects, while businesses and workers will miss out on new contracts and jobs for the next few months.

Top Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had pleaded with appropriators to ensure that the CR reflects the increased investment for highway, highway safety and public transit that were provided in last year’s surface transportation bill.

“Looks like House Republicans missed the memo from President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE on boosting transportation infrastructure investment,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member on the Transportation Committee, said Wednesday.

“Instead of carrying out the promise of rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems, the Continuing Resolution ignores the FAST Act transportation funding levels that were approved a year ago, resulting in a $2.4 billion reduction in transportation investment which will impact the next Spring’s construction seasons.”

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 until spring, when the spring construction season will already be underway.

“House Republicans like to talk about this ‘big league’ trillion dollar transportation plan they supposedly want to pass—cuts like these sure make you question whether they are serious about it,” DeFazio said.