Congress has voted to extend authorizations for federal highway and transit programs through July 31. Both the House and Senate passed the measure. The new stopgap is the 33rd extension in six years. President Obama is expected to sign the bill before the May 31 deadline.
“The extension keeps existing projects moving forward, which is good, but you can’t fund the America’s infrastructure two months at a time,” said Bailey Wood, National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) spokesperson. “NSSGA’s number-one goal remains a long-term bill with a stable funding stream to effectively grow the economy and create jobs.”
"We heard a lot from lawmakers today about their support for a long-term highway bill. But actions speak louder than words," said Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater. "If Congress wants to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable solution for the Highway Trust Fund, the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee could start by hosting hearings on the topic of highway financing. Even better would be for leaders in Congress and the Obama administration to produce new, innovative proposals on how they would fund a long-term bill."
"This two month extension is a reflection of the inability of Congress to fund a long-term surface transportation bill, which has caused uncertainty among our members," said Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. "State DOTs are already postponing construction projects this year because they can’t count on federal funds to be there."
U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue called on Congress to "get its head out of a pothole."
“While we recognize that passing a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund through July was a necessary action, it was not a sufficient one. Continuing to kick the can down the road when it comes to funding our nation’s transportation infrastructure threatens the continuity necessary for economic development, international trade, and job creation.
“We need Congress to get its head out of a pothole and immediately turn to identifying and advancing a bipartisan, sustainable, and long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund," Donohue said. "By the end of July, Congress must send to the president a measure that generates the cash flows necessary to supporting continued outlays from the Highway Trust Fund, giving businesses the certainty they need to plan for the future.
“The Chamber is urging leaders of both parties to come together and find a shared solution that allows us to work on finding ways to grow investment in transit, roads, and bridges, and enable economic growth and expansion,” he concluded.