Road and Transit Groups Join Boxer to Push for Senate Jobs Bill

Representatives from Washington’s road and transit lobbies joined
Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today to
call for swift passage of job-creation legislation that is slated for a
vote in the upper chamber of Congress on Monday.

070619_boxer.jpgSenate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: AP)

Faced with the prospects of a GOP filibuster, Senate Democrats have taken up a pared-down jobs bill that features
a $20 billion rescue of the nation’s cash-strapped highway trust fund
and an expansion of Build America Bonds, a popular infrastructure
financing program.

"Ensuring these are included in the very first jobs
package is so essential," Boxer told reporters today. "We just don’t have time to wait for an extension of the highway
trust fund."

That fund, which provides money for
bicycle and pedestrian projects as well as roads, is operating under a
stopgap re-upping of the 2005 federal transportation law that is set to
expire at the end of the month. Without a $20 billion transfer to keep
the fund in the black until 2011, Boxer said, its coffers would run dry
sometime in the summer.

John Horsley, executive director of
the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
(AASHTO), and William Millar, chief of the American Public
Transportation Association (APTA), joined Boxer in touting the need for
a highway trust fund extension — which would effectively postpone
debate on a new long-term federal transport bill until after the 2010
midterm elections, dealing a blow to House efforts to spur action this year.

"Failing
an extension of the authorization bill," Millar said, transit agencies
"would not be able to invest the money" Congress already has
appropriated for his sector.

Despite support from road and
transit interests, as well as bipartisan agreement on the need to keep
the highway trust fund solvent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-NV) is far from assured
of winning 60 votes for his first jobs bill. If the initial measure can
squeak through next week, Boxer said senators could soon take up a
second jobs bill that includes more infrastructure spending —
potentially in line with the House’s $37.3 billion in new investment.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Boxer Delays Senate Climate Bill Until September

|
This was supposed to be a big week for action on climate change in the Senate — but it’s ending with Republicans rubbing their hands in glee as the Environment and Public Works Committee delays its unveiling of legislation on carbon emissions. Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: AP) As Reuters reports this […]

Lawmakers Cross Party Lines on Transpo Funding as Debate Rages

|
An 18-month extension of existing transportation law cleared the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, but not before spirited debate on a proposal billed as a compromise with House members who remain strongly opposed to the Senate’s stopgap. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman of the Senate environment committee (Photo: Politics Now) The "clean" re-upping of […]

Senate Starts Work on New Transport Bill, With House Version as a Guide

|
The Senate today took its first steps towards voting on a new long-term federal transportation bill, with environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) vowing to take up a successor to the 2005 infrastructure law before 2011 and indicating she would use the House’s already-introduced version as a framework. Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), […]

White House Economic Report Touts TIGER, High-Speed Rail, Transit

|
The White House Council of Economic Advisers’ first annual report under President Obama made headlines today for its gloomy job-creation outlook, but tucked inside its 462 pages is a tangible reflection of a changed outlook on transportation policy under the new administration. Top White House economic adviser Christina Romer, at right, holds up yesterday’s report. […]
STREETSBLOG USA

Mica Warns Boxer on Highway Trust Fund; House Plans Hearing on “Drill Bill”

|
“I want to congratulate you on your Committee’s approval of the ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,” begins House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica’s letter yesterday to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee. From there, the letter changes tone: However, I am concerned that the Senate two-year proposal does […]