WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, today said he is reaching out to his colleagues to quickly resolve a Washington DC dispute that will force the Federal Highway Department to shut down on Monday.
"Oklahomans are going to pay a huge price once again because of politics as usual in Washington," Inhofe said. "Today Congress failed to prevent the Federal Highway Program from shutting down. I have already been in touch with Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley and discussed with him the fallout of Congress's failure. Gary tells me that if Congress cannot resolve this quickly, Oklahoma will lose contracts which will have a significant impact on this year's construction season.
"Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around. Earlier this week, the Senate passed legislation that included a number of tax cuts and a long-term extension of the highway program. House Democrats were divided on the bill and their leadership couldn't pass the bill. Given the chaos in their caucus, they passed a 30 day extension of the Highway Program late yesterday. Because this 30-day extension would add about $10 billion to the debt, a GOP Senator said he'd only agree to it if it was offset. Senate Democrats refused to offset the package. Nobody was willing to back down. As a result, the Federal Highway Administration will shut its doors on Monday and the highway program will no longer pay states money they are owed.
"To resolve this crisis, I have been on the phone all day with several of my Senate colleagues. Those who are using this to score political points need a reality check.This is far too important to let partisan politics get in the way of helping out states. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work so people in Oklahoma and across the country don't have to pay the price for business as usual in Washington."