Transportation secretary urged Congress to tackle nation’s infrastructure challenge.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on Wednesday went to Capitol Hill to meet with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, now chaired by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., to discuss investment in surface transportation infrastructure.
A nine-month, $11 billion extension of Department of Transportation highway and transit programs expires in May. Without another infusion of money from the General Treasury states likely will have to scale back projects because the Highway Trust Fund is not bringing in enough revenue from gas tax receipts to cover existing construction needs. Beyond the immediate funding cliff, there is pressure on Congress to come up with a multi-year bill to further reform infrastructure delivery and create additional sources of revenue to support the Highway Trust Fund.
In his “Fast Lane” blog, Foxx said there are thousands of highway sections and bridges across the country that need to be widened, repaired or replaced, but are deteriorating because there is not enough money to pay for such projects. Many states are slowing or postponing projects until there is more funding certainty from Washington to cover the federal share of projects on the national highway system.
The situation is harming U.S. global competitiveness and domestic productivity, experts say.
Foxx said that multiple short-term extensions in the past several years have created a climate of uncertainty that is killing the will of states and local governments to build up their transportation systems.
“We must face the facts and address the cumulative chilling effects of these short-term measures and this policy uncertainty,” the secretary said.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Thursday, Foxx urged Congress to move quickly on passing a long-term reauthorization bill. He reiterated the Obama administration’s plan to raise about $150 billion over four years through corporate tax reform, although he failed to note that it would only provide a one-time infusion of money rather than an ongoing stream of revenue.
Asked about whether raising the gasoline tax is a good option, he said once again that the administration would wait to see if the idea gained any consensus in Congress.