Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today made the following remarks in connection with Senate passage of legislation to restore $8 billion to the Highway Trust Fund.
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
"Mr. President, the Bush Administration has finally stopped denying there is a dangerous shortfall in the federal fund that helps states pay for critical highway construction.
"Six times the Senate has brought up legislation to restore money to the Highway Trust Fund and protect millions of construction jobs, but, until now, Republicans have put up roadblocks and filibusters over and over again.
"It is now time to take a vote on this important legislation so we can solve this transportation crisis today.
"The Highway Trust Fund's balances have dropped quickly over the past couple of months.
"I would like to briefly highlight some of the letters and press releases that show the broad support for action across this country:
American Association of State Highway &Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
American Road and Transportation Builders Assoc.
American Highway Users Alliance
American Trucking Associations (ATA)
Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)
National Association of Counties (NACo)
National Association of Manufacturers
National Governors' Association
National Conference of State Legislatures
Midwestern Governors' Association
Coalition of Northeastern Governors
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
"What we are doing is simply restoring revenue that was shifted out of the highway trust fund ten years ago when balances were high.
"The Administration suddenly stopped denying this reality late last week. And my Republican colleagues have decided to stop blocking action.
"According to FHWA, revenues have dropped from $4.2 billion at the end of July to less than $1.4 billion at the beginning of September.
"This drop is due to the fact that Americans are driving less and the funds generated by the gas tax have been much lower than previously anticipated.
"We now have the opportunity to save thousands of jobs and important transportation improvements. Each billion dollars of Federal funding is estimated to support 34,700 jobs. These are good jobs. They generate $1.3 billion in employment income.
"My own state of California receives more than $3 billion in federal funding for highways per year.
"We can save 32,315 jobs in my state. And California is certainly not alone.
"Nationwide we are talking about approximately 379,537 jobs saved.
"State and local officials need to have confidence in the flow of funds in order to operate the transportation systems that are so essential to our communities and our economy.
"We have one more chance to fix the shortfall. Thousands of jobs depend on it.
"As we move beyond this crisis, I look forward to addressing transportation funding comprehensively in the upcoming transportation reauthorization, because we must find a way to fund this program sustainably over the long term."
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