Rep. Huffman Offers Motion to Greatly Increase Funding for Transportation Infrastructure, Road and Bridge Repair
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today offered a motion to improve the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (H.R. 22), the bipartisan House transportation bill, and ensure Congress provides the funding needed to repair America’s crumbling roads and bridges. H.R. 22, passed today by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, would provide $325 billion for highway, bridge, transportation safety, and public transit projects over the next six years, $17 billion less than the Senate version of the bill. Huffman’s Motion to Instruct would increase funding levels to match the Senate version of the bill and further increase funding available should the Highway Trust Fund collect more revenue than projected.
“We are woefully underinvesting in our nation’s infrastructure. Status quo funding in the House bill will only worsen congestion in our cities and suburbs,” Huffman said. “This motion instructs conferees to adopt the higher funding levels for highway, transit, and highway safety programs contained in the Senate DRIVE Act. The DRIVE Act provides $342 billion over six years, that’s $17 billion more than the House bill.”
Matching the House DRIVE Act’s funding levels with that of the Senate version would:
- Provide $12 billion to repair the 147,000 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges in our country,
- Provide $4.4 billion local transit agencies and help address the $86 billion state of good repair backlog nationwide facing our local transit agencies.
Huffman is the author of the Gas Tax Replacement Act, which would reform the underperforming federal gas tax and ensure the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
Rep. Huffman spoke on the House floor in support of his motion, which can be viewed HERE.
The full transcript of Rep. Huffman’s remarks can be found below:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
“Since 2009, this Congress has failed to make some hard choices. And as a result, highway, transit, and safety programs have limped along with flat funding. States and transit authorities have been unable to plan major, long-term projects as they watch this Congress extend these programs for a few months at a time, often waiting until midnight of the coming shutdown, and then extend them again with short-term patches.
“The Federal gas tax, which pays for these highway and public transit investments, has not been raised in 22 years. Its purchasing power has fallen 40 percent.
“And for all the progress we made last week under Speaker Ryan in terms of allowing policy amendments to be offered to the bill, let’s all recognize that the Republican Leadership blocked every single proposed amendment regarding the funding inadequacies in this bill.
“Democrats and Republicans offered a wealth of options to fund the program:
- Increasing the gas tax;
- Using repatriated revenue to increase investment in the U.S.;
- Creating a bipartisan, bicameral task force to address the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund; and
- Simply, indexing the gas tax to account for the costs of inflation.
“Regrettably, the Republican Leadership, despite all the pledges of openness, would not let this House debate even a single proposal to address the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund.
“Mr. Speaker, we can do better.
“Today, I offer a motion to instruct conferees that recognizes that we are woefully underinvesting in our Nation’s infrastructure.
“This motion instructs conferees to adopt the higher funding levels for highway, transit, and highway safety programs contained in the Senate DRIVE Act. The DRIVE Act provides $342 billion over six years, that’s $17 billion more than the House bill.
“Now, the DRIVE Act provides $12 billion more than the House bill over six years to reconstruct our highways and rebuild our crumbling bridges. This small increase only begins to deal with the 147,000 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges in our country. That is, by the way, one of every four bridges.
“This funding will only help us begin to address the two thirds of the nation’s roads that are in less than “good” condition.
“The DRIVE Act provides $4.4 billion more over six years for local transit agencies to help more people move safely to their jobs. This small increase will only begin to address the $86 billion state of good repair backlog nationwide facing our local transit agencies.
“In 2013, Americans took 10.7 billion public transit trips – and, Mr. Speaker, many of these were on systems that were built nearly 100 years ago. Congestion is a ballooning problem, affecting 42 percent of America’s major roads and costs the economy $121 billion a year. Status quo funding in the House bill will only worsen congestion in our cities and suburbs.
“This motion also instructs conferees to include Section 1414(b) of the House bill in a final Conference Report. This section provides a mechanism to automatically adjust investment levels, should additional money come into the Trust Fund during the six year term of the bill.
“Additional receipts into the Trust Fund could come into the trust fund from unanticipated places: it could come from higher than anticipated vehicle miles traveled. There could be a bigger infusion into the Trust Fund through a subsequent act of Congress.
“If actual receipts into the Highway Trust Fund exceed estimated receipts for the most recently completed fiscal year, program levels would automatically be adjusted by the additional amount at the beginning of the next fiscal year.
“This ensures that any additional funds that Congress makes available can quickly flow to States to invest in badly-needed infrastructure projects. The Secretary will distribute this additional funding proportionally to each of the highway, transit, and safety programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund authorized under this final Conference Report.
“I urge my colleagues to support this motion.
“I reserve the balance of my time."