Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — though a lame duck — hasn’t been sitting idly since announcing he wouldn’t be staying in President Barack Obama’s cabinet for the second term.
With sequestration cuts looming Friday, LaHood took the opportunity Wednesday when speaking to members of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to say that sequestration “is a meat axe approach” and will prevent the country from moving forward with needed infrastructure investment.
“We’re all in this together. Sequester is a dumb idea,” LaHood said. “It will not work. It will not work in helping us reaching our goals to improve America’s transportation. It just won’t.”
That followed LaHood — the only Republican in Obama’s cabinet in the first term — challenging AASHTO members to leave transportation and the country as a whole better than the way it was found, which means setting partisanship aside, he said.
“We must put aside our differences and give our kids and our grandkids a country that’s better than the one we left,” LaHood said. “We inherited the interstate system, thanks to generations of people with foresight. What are we going to leave the next generation?”
The challenge the country faces at present, LaHood said, is figuring out how to pay for needed infrastructure improvements. Though the highway reauthorization funding bill passed last summer was considered a long-term bill — two years — LaHood said future bills should be longer and more comprehensive.
“It’s no secret, two years was all the money they could find, and everybody wished it could be longer and more comprehensive, we certainly felt that way, but we are dealing with what we have,” LaHood said. “Where do we get the resources to get beyond a two-year bill? To do a five-year bill? To have $500 or $600 billion? To do what previous generations have done?”
LaHood said investment in infrastructure gives businesses the “tools they need to compete” and make both commercial and private transportation more efficient and gives the U.S. the opportunity to better compete globally.
Below is a video of LaHood’s full address from transportationtv.org: