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Bipartisan Letter Urges Senate to Act on Transportation Extension
Chairmen and Ranking Members Highlight Job and Economic Opportunities through Transportation Programs
November 17, 2009

Washington, DC - Today, a bipartisan group of seven Senate Committee Chairs and Ranking Members sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging leadership to file cloture to move forward on a 6-month extension of the surface transportation bill to spur job creation and an economic recovery.

The letter was signed by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ranking Member, Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), Ranking Member, and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Committee on Finance.

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

One of the best ways to spur job creation and economic recovery is through infrastructure investment. That is why a longer term extension of the surface transportation program is so important to maintaining our nation's vital bridges, roads, public transportation and other related infrastructure, restoring our economy and creating good jobs for American workers.

In July, the Committee on Environment and Public Works, the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs each reported an 18-month extension of the surface transportation program prior to the expiration of the 2005 surface transportation bill, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), with bipartisan support.

We believe a multi-month extension of SAFETEA-LU is the best solution. It would give states the certainty they need to plan and contract for transportation infrastructure projects. The Department of Transportation estimates that every $1 billion spent on transportation and matched by the states supports approximately 35,000 jobs. It would also give the Department of Transportation's highway safety agencies the certainty they need to continue implementing safety-critical programs that keep motorists safe on our roads.
SAFETEA-LU expired at the end of September and, unfortunately, there was objection to floor consideration of the bipartisan legislation extending these important programs. This necessitated two short term extensions to the surface transportation program, attached to Continuing Resolutions. Short term extensions mean less money is available for states, and do not provide states the certainty they need to keep crucial transportation projects moving forward.

On a bipartisan basis, we have decided to move forward with a 6-month extension. Unfortunately, a small number of Senators continue to object and will not allow an extension to be considered by the Senate without a cloture vote.

We urge you to file cloture on the motion to proceed on the 6-month extension and dedicate the time necessary to complete this important legislation, so we can put Americans back to work and keep our economy moving.

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