Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today he was confident a multiyear bill to reauthorize the nation's surface transportation programs can be passed by Congress and signed into law by the August summer recess.
Speaking at the SMC3 annual winter meeting in Atlanta, LaHood said he was confident that the timetable could be met even with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and pledges of spending austerity from some members of Congress. That's because Congress recognizes that transportation funding is a bipartisan issue that benefits the nation through improved infrastructure and enhanced job-creation, LaHood said.
"There are no Republican or Democratic runways. There are no Republican or Democratic roads. There are no Republican or Democratic bridges," he said.
The administration has proposed a six-year reauthorization to fund the nation's infrastructure programs, including a $50 billion front-end infusion. The most recent surface transport reauthorization law expired on Sept. 30, 2009. The program has been operating on a series of short-term extensions since then.
LaHood reiterated the Obama administration's opposition to a proposal to increase federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel to fund transportation programs, maintaining the White House's stance that it's unwise to raise fuel taxes during a period of high unemployment and still-uncertain economic prospects. The federal fuels tax has not been raised since 1993.