Lawmakers Reject House Starvation Levels For Transportation

A small but bipartisan group of lawmakers today sent a letter to the leaders of the House Transportation Committee, urging them to act quickly to pass a bill with adequate funding to meet the country’s needs — “higher than or at least equal to the current funding level.”

Bike-commuting Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) calls transpo funding levels in Paul Ryan's budget proposal "disastrously stingy." Photo: ##http://www.sfgate.com/blogs/images/sfgate/green/2009/01/14/profile_45.jpg##SF Gate##

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steven LaTourette (R-OH), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) signed on to the letter [PDF]. Twenty-five senators sent a similar letter two weeks ago.

“Congress’ inability to pass a new authorization in the last 20 months has created great uncertainty in the transportation community, resulting in a slowdown of transportation activities across the nation,” the House members wrote in today’s letter.

They added that transportation infrastructure is one of the most cost-efficient and effective ways to reduce unemployment and stimulate the economy.

In a statement, Blumenauer called the funding levels proposed in Paul Ryan’s budget “disastrously stingy.” He said they “do not meet the minimum levels required to keep America’s transportation network safe and our economy competitive.”

LaTourette played it safer in his comment, focusing not on funding levels but timing. “We can’t keep putting this bill on the back burner and leave states in limbo,” he said. “We need a robust bill if we’re truly serious about rebuilding America, and creating jobs.”

Republican Simpson followed LaTourette’s lead, adding, “If we intend to remain competitive on the world stage, we must maintain a system that transports goods and people safely and efficiently.”

Their focus on jobs is timely, as the Senate EPW Committee today released new numbers quantifying state-by-state job losses if transportation is underfunded.

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