WASHINGTON — With about a week to go before a House transportation panel takes up a multiyear highway bill, the country’s top transportation officer said the timing is right for both chambers of Congress to finally approve such legislation.
“I firmly believe that on a bipartisan basis we are in a moment where Congress can achieve a bipartisan bill that helps us carry the work forward,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Sept. 9 at the National Press Club. “I still believe that, and I look forward to working with my colleagues here and along with many other stakeholders to ensure that happens.”
Foxx was joined by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) and Teamsters President James Hoffa to urge congressional action on legislation that would ensure the sustainability of the Highway Trust Fund for several years. The Department of Transportation recently projected the trust fund, an account that helps states pay for infrastructure projects, will be insolvent after June of next year.
Foxx told reporters the latest DOT projection should not dissuade Capitol Hill leaders from approving a multiyear highway bill. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to mark up a long-term policy bill next week, various stakeholders have indicated. In July, the Senate advanced a six-year highway bill that would fund transportation for programs for three years.
When asked if the Obama White House would support another short-term extension in October, Foxx would not say. Since 2009, Congress has approved 34 short-term funding extensions for highway programs.