Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx yesterday took his argument that Congress—in its current term-- must act on the long-term funding of transportation infrastructure straight to the voting public.
During a virtual “National Town Hall” meeting he hosted, Foxx urged individual constituents to actively lobby their Senators and Representatives to pass legislation that would enable the long-term funding of transportation projects before their term ends in January.
In his remarks, Foxx specifically promoted the Administration’s own $302 billion, multi-year legislative proposal for transportation infrastructure funding, the Grow America Act, which has gone nowhere in Congress since it was rolled out back in February.
While not maligning the current occupants of Capitol Hill as a “do-nothing Congress” (as Harry Truman once did to historic effect), Foxx made plain his view that continued Congressional lassitude on this issue will come at a steep price.
“By 2015,” Foxx stated, “we will have to move more than twice the freight than now, but we won’t be able to do that with the current [highway/rail/port] infrastructure.
“A short-term funding patch is not enough,” he continued. “Walking close to a cliff on funding makes planning difficult.”
Foxx noted that “Congress last week bought itself some time and averted a crisis [by passing a measure] to keep the system going ten months. But it now needs to craft [long-term] legislation before their term expires in January. And they should use Grow America as their guide.”
He explained that the term ending is crucial to this issue because if the current Congress does not act, “all that is pending will expire and the next Congress will have to deal with transportation funding within a crowded agenda—and a short-term fix will occur again.”
Turning to how infrastructure funding is truly a local issue, Foxx argued that the “cumulative effect of these short-term fixes over several years is to severely impact planning and funding at the state and local levels. That is why we are seeing [infrastructure] projects slow down.
“You must make Congress aware of the economically driven infrastructure projects that are on the ‘to do’ list of your communities,” Foxx stressed to listeners. “It is those local projects that will get the attention of [individual members of] Congress.
He added that when constituents pressure their representatives on supporting such projects, “it makes the infrastructure issue real to them.”
Stressing again that “Americans will have to speak up to get Congress to take action on infrastructure spending,” Foxx added that constituents can argue that there are “no Democratic or Republican roads or bridges.”