President Obama Renews Call for Transit Bill Extenstion


Photo: Transportation for America

With less than four weeks until Federal surface transportation programs expire – along with the fuel taxes that fund them – President Obama reiterated his support for an extension of the transportation legislation. In his weekly radio address to the nation today, Obama warned that a failure to extend the transit programs could threaten “hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Read the full Bloomberg News article on the President’s radio address here.

When Congress languished to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration in July 2011, 4,000 employees were furloughed and 200 construction jobs were halted for nearly two weeks. The partial shutdown cost the government $30 million each day in airline taxes it could not collect.

Failure to enact either a full reauthorization or a temporary extension of surface transportation programs would have even greater repercussions to the fragile U.S. economy. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that a delay of 10 days to extend the legislation would cost the U.S. $1 billion in lost fuel tax receipts and furlough some 4,000 government officials. If the Highway Trust Fund – which funds most highway and mass transit programs – were to shutdown, most if not all of the 1.8 million transportation and construction jobs it directly supports would be threatened. Nearly 118,000 jobs are linked to Federal highway and mass transit programs in New York State.

House and Senate leaders must reconcile wildly different reauthorization proposals when Congress returns from its summer recess this week. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) has proposed a $230 billion, 6-year full reauthorization that limits Highway Trust Fund outlays to the amount of fuel taxes received and cuts authorized spending by 35 percent from current levels. Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has proposed a $110 billion, 2-year extension.

The current authorization will expire September 30.