Inhofe Says House Approach Doesn’t Provide States Needed Certainty
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today expressed disappointment that the House passed a bill that provides only a short term fix to the Highway Trust Fund shortfall. The House voted today in favor of transferring $7 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to prevent it from running out of funds before the end of September, when the current federal fiscal year ends. As a result, Congress will still need to either pass a reauthorization bill or extension by the end of September. The House passed the bill by a vote of 363-68.
“The short term Highway Trust Fund fix passed by the House falls well short of what is needed for our states,” Senator Inhofe said. “While the House bill provides the necessary funds to ensure the Trust Fund does not go bankrupt in the next sixty days, it fails to provide States with the long term certainty they need. Unfortunately, the House approach means Congress will be back in less than sixty days to do this all over again. Rather than wait two months to pass a long term extension, we should be doing that today. It would be the more responsible approach.
“The bottom line is that we need to pass an extension of the highway program. There is simply no way that Congress will be able to pass a reauthorization of the highway bill before the program expires at the end of September. There are simply too many big questions left that must be answered, including how we are going to pay for it. A better approach is to pass a longer term extension as we are working to do in the Senate. I am pleased to be working closely with Senator Boxer and the Obama administration and believe we will succeed in passing an extension as soon as we return in September.
“Additionally, the short term fix means Congress will be forced to wait to resolve the looming $8.7 Billion SAFETEA-LU 2009 rescission, something which is of great importance to my state of Oklahoma. My good friend and Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley and I have recently talked on the need to resolve this issue as soon as possible. I have assured him that when Congress returns in September, we will make every effort to address this important issue as well.”