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Senators call on Boehner to not make transportation funding cuts

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
September 14, 2012

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, a trio of United States Senators made their case for transportation programs to not be cut in a six-month continuing resolution, H.J. Res 117, which was recently passed by the House Rules Committee geared to keep federal government funding intact through March 27, was approved by the House.

Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Tim Johnson (D-SD) called on Boehner to restore funding for transportation programs in Fiscal Year 2013, adding that if funding for the recently-passed, two-year, $109 billion Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation bill is not granted, it will result in a loss of more than $620 million and roughly 22,000 jobs in FY 2013, which would go towards road and bridge repairs and to enforce safety requirements for cars, trucks, and buses, among other things.

MAP-21 was signed into law by President Barack Obama after a 30-month stretch in which funding for the nation’s transportation projects was kept intact by a series of 9 consecutive extensions, following the September 2009 expiration of Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Congress last month finally came to terms on a new bill, which will keep funding at current levels through the end of Fiscal Year 2014. As reported by LM, there are various parts of MAP-21 which stand to have a direct impact on freight transportation, logistics, and supply chain stakeholders, including funding for the federal-aid highway program through fiscal 2014 at current funding levels with a small inflationary adjustment and
the development of a National Freight Strategic Plan.

“The funding levels in MAP-21 were fully paid for with offsets included in the bill and therefore honoring the bipartisan and bicameral agreement in MAP-21 will not increase the federal deficit,” the Senators wrote. “[T]hese funding cuts must be restored for fiscal year 2013.”

In an interview with LM, Mort Downey, Chairman of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) and former deputy Transportation Secretary under President Clinton explained that in a perfect world, implementing MAP-21 as written would make good public policy and meet real needs but when Congress is unable to arrive at regular order Appropriation bills and goes instead to Continuing Resolutions, there are consequences.

“The CR as proposed does tie spending levels to the new MAP-21 structure, but was not able to establish an overall spending cap except by reference to last year’s level set in the FY 2012 appropriations,” said Downey. “I hope that the strong letter from the Senate Chairs will set the debate in a proper direction when the new Congress gets to work on permanent funding for FY 2013.  The funds authorized by MAP-21 are not lost.  They can and should be released when a new Appropriations bill is passed next year.”

Leslie Blakey, CAGTC executive director, said that this situation underscores the need for Congress to raise adequate revenue for transportation.

What’s more, she said this situation also exposes the fallacy of doing more with less. –

“In real terms, we’re doing much less with less,” noted Blakey. “Putting our transportation needs on hold is costing us in jobs, deferred maintenance and infrastructure that support economic growth.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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