Lipinski: Congress Must Seize on Opportunity Created by Speaker Boehner's Announcement, Senate Vote to Forge a Bipartisan Transportation Reauthorization Bill

Today, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) urged his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work together in the wake of House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement that he plans to introduce a transportation reauthorization bill by Thanksgiving and the Senate vote killing President Obama’s transportation infrastructure stimulus. Boehner’s announcement comes two days after Rep. Lipinski urged the Speaker to take advantage of the growing support on both sides of the aisle for passing a robust, multi-year, job-creating transportation reauthorization bill.

“After sending a letter earlier this week urging Speaker Boehner to make passage of a transportation reauthorization bill a top priority, this announcement is a ray of hope for progress on a bill that is atop my jobs plan agenda,” said Rep. Lipinski, who as the most senior Chicago-area member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee has been pushing for passage of a transportation reauthorization for nearly three years. “What’s most important now is that we build on the momentum that exists to pass a fully paid-for, multi-year, bipartisan transportation reauthorization that will put hundreds of thousands of people to work building critical projects that relieve congestion and enhance safety. I look forward to studying the legislation closely when it is released. We have no time for political message pieces; it is time we finally get this bill done for the American people.”

“Today, the Senate voted down the transportation infrastructure stimulus that was part of President Obama’s American Jobs Act, as well as alternative legislation that Senate Republicans put forward knowing it could not pass. Now we must move forward together to pass a transportation reauthorization bill that addresses our enormous transportation infrastructure needs. Make no mistake, despite the squabbling today in the Senate, there is support for a robust reauthorization bill on both sides of the aisle. Democrats on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee have long urged passage of such a bill. More recently, House Republicans have abandoned a proposal to cut transportation funding by roughly a third and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica has proposed making a reauthorization the GOP’s ‘primary jobs bill.’ Meanwhile, on the Senate side, the Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to pass its portion of a bipartisan two-year, $109 billion reauthorization bill next week. More than two years after the last reauthorization expired, and nearly three years after I first called on Congress to act, we have a golden opportunity to both put people back to work and address the congestion and delays that cost our country more than $100 billion annually. Failure to make a serious and genuine effort to forge a bipartisan bill with a legitimate chance of passing both the House and Senate would be an abdication by Congress of its responsibility to the American people.”

Every four to six years, Congress passes a surface transportation “reauthorization” bill – major transportation legislation that sets policy and provides funding for investments in America’s roads, highways, bridges, and public transit. However, the last long-term bill expired in September 2009. Passing short-term extensions of the expired legislation, as Congress has already done eight times since then, makes it difficult for states to undertake major projects due to the uncertainty over funding. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $1 billion of transportation investment creates and supports almost 28,000 jobs. Under the last transportation reauthorization bill, Illinois received nearly $9.7 billion in funding.

On Tuesday, Rep. Lipinski sent House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and other House leaders a letter urging them to take advantage of the growing support on both sides of the aisle for passing a robust, bipartisan, job-creating transportation reauthorization bill.

(November 3, 2011)