Driving the Transportation Ball Forward
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Today’s Christian Science Monitor included a thoughtful review of some of the biggest challenges Congress is facing as it tries to craft a path forward for the nation’s highway and public transportation programs. Unfortunately, the headline, “Transportation Bill, Not Yet Passed, Already Blasted by Critics,” misses a key sentiment in the transportation, business, and labor communities: the bill that is currently being hammered out in conference is a crucial near-term lifeline that must be signed by the president.
While neither the House nor the Senate have stepped forward with sustainable funding solutions, the legislation currently being negotiated is rife with critical reforms that will help improve the business of transportation investment around the country and will help pave the path forward to more comprehensive solutions. It also shores up the Highway Trust Fund so federal investments won’t be cut by nearly 60% next year.
Cleaning up the public image of these programs and restoring the agreement with taxpayers through reform is a critical step towards a renewed commitment by all Americans to these programs. Both the House and Senate have taken big steps in that direction by pushing for a major consolidation of the programs, speeding up project delivery, eliminating the practice of earmarking, and providing more opportunities for private investment.
There is no question, Congress is punting on providing sustainable revenue for these programs. In doing so, they continue to gamble with U.S. competitiveness and a critical component of future economic growth. But that doesn’t mean Congress isn’t driving the ball forward. To get there from here, we need this bill.