(WASHINGTON) – Today, the Senate voted to take up a six-year surface transportation reauthorization that will include three years of funding for highway, rail and transit programs. The Senate is racing to send a bill to the president’s desk to beat the July 31 expiration of the current road spending pot. The House has passed a five-month extension funding programs until the end of the year.
Since 2008, Congress has transferred more than $62 billion from the general fund to keep the Highway Trust Fund afloat, and it has been more than a decade since Congress has passed a highway bill that lasted longer than two years. Meanwhile, bridges like the one spanning busy Interstate 10 in Southern California that collapsed last weekend will continue to fall into disrepair.
“While some lawmakers seem content to ignore our broad transportation infrastructure needs, it is clear many U.S. roads and bridges don’t have the luxury of time to be fixed,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “Congress must put aside partisan agendas and work together. No more delays and no more short-term patches.”
While we commend the Senate for moving forward on a multi-year surface transportation bill, at the same time we must express disapproval of the inclusion of several provisions that denigrate highway and rail safety and put the lives of Teamster members and their families at greater risk. We will continue to address those issues as the legislation moves forward.
Without long-term investments, states cannot commit to the infrastructure projects they desperately need. However, the inability of Republicans and Democrats to agree upon how to fund a multi-year surface transportation bill has left state governments and the millions of workers who benefit from infrastructure projects in limbo.
“It’s time for Congress to feel the need for speed,” Hoffa said. “It must move swiftly to enact a comprehensive, long-term highway bill that will generate jobs and build, maintain and repair our ailing infrastructure. Let’s get America working! But let’s not compromise highway and rail safety and put workers and the public in harm’s way to accomplish those goals.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.