By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
The U.S. House of Representatives has adjourned, and Senate was wrapping up last-minute business for the year as Washington Newsline published late afternoon Dec. 9. Congress is scheduled to reconvene again in early January.
ARTBA is encouraging its membership to reach out to their congressmen and senators while they are back home and visit with them about a host of unresolved transportation policy issues.
First, thank them for the Dec. 2015 passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, but explain that the job’s not close to being done. Before adjourning, Congress passed a government-wide spending proposal that would delay roughly $1.5 billion in highway and public transportation investment increases until at least seven months into FY 2017. The proposal would hold virtually all federal programs at the FY 2016 level through the end of April. Convey that you expect Congress to live up to letter of the FAST Act law and restore those funding levels next year.
Second, ask them to play a leadership role in fixing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and doing so in a manner that will support growing highway and public transportation investment. Simply maintaining the status quo, as Congress has done in the last two bills, will not create jobs or boost the U.S. economy.
Third, tell them they will have an opportunity to deliver permanent transportation revenue reform as part of either of any final tax package or infrastructure initiative that goes to President Trump in 2017. Both vehicles are appropriate for fixing the HTF shortfall once and for all and providing the expanded investment necessary to support President Trump’s spot-on vision for doing what is necessary to upgrade our commerce-critical transportation corridors.
Face-to-face contact with elected officials during a holiday party or town hall meeting is the best way to discuss these issues, when possible. You can also take action through ARTBA’s Grassroots Action Center, which will automatically send an email message, a tweet and Facebook post, to your representative and two senators.
Together, let’s turn up the heat on Congress this holiday season!