Short-Term Highway Fund Extensions
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
Congressional Record: 114th Congress, 1st Session
July 13, 2015
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from the District of Columbia (Ms. NORTON) for 5 minutes.
Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, 2-year short-term highway fund extensions have become one of Congress’ most costly habits. Kudos to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which has marked up the highway portion and may come to the floor this week with a 6-year bill.
That bill is not yet paid for, but the Senate is at least making progress toward a 6-year bill, the kind that is needed to make a dent in the backlog of our construction projects in the States.
We should not be deterred by the likelihood of another short-term bill, perhaps going to the end of the year. The goal before the year is out must be a long-term bill.
Congress has taken to authorizing the highway trust fund for 2 years, knowing full well that the trust fund, collecting gas user fees at 1993 levels, would run out even before those 2 years are out; then the waltz begins with endless short-term bills.
The States are disgusted and exhausted. MAP–21 ran out before the end of its 2-year lifetime. The last short-term bill extension was so useless that it has lasted longer than expected because the States could not apply the funds to the backlog of now endless rescheduled projects; 6-month extensions have yielded 6-month projects, usually only patchwork.
This poster goes beyond showing that the short-term extensions have been useless to the States. These short term bills and extensions are having negative effects on the pocketbooks of our constituents. The highway user fee, which has not been raised for 22 years, costs drivers $97 a year. The bad roads that are the result cost those same drivers $515 per year.
Find your State for the cost to your constituents. Here is a random sample: Louisiana, $514 per year; Oklahoma, $763 per year; New Jersey, $685 per driver; Ohio, $446 per driver; California, $762 per driver; and Pennsylvania, $471 per driver.
All the figures are high, regardless of State or region of the country, and those high dollar amounts go out of the pockets of our constituents to patch bad roads, instead of putting the funds into fixing those roads, bridges, and transit.
Congress’ short-term attention to our roads, highways, transit and bridges is breaking the bank, not for the Federal Government, but for our constituents. It is no longer the old adage ‘‘you can’t get something for nothing’’ rather, not funding the highway trust fund for 6 years costs the people we represent not nothing, but $515 per driver.
We have got to fund our transportation projects or ask our constituents to pay for their bad roads. The costs to the American people make our options clear what the best thing to do is.
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