Highway funding action hot of late: Foxx tells Congress ‘to hell with politics’; Lawmakers readying proposals

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truck-highwaySecretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx pleaded with members of the Senate this week to discontinue the trend of short-term highway funding patches in favor of long-term bills as a means to restore trust among state and local governments and to give U.S. roadways the funding they need.

His remarks came at a hearing by the Senate’s Environmental and Public Works committee held Wednesday, where committee members took testimony on highway funding.

“To hell with politics,” he said. “In order for the system to be as good as the American people, we must do something dramatic.”

Secretary Anthony Foxx speaking to a Senate committee Wednesday. Photo from The HillSecretary Anthony Foxx speaking to a Senate committee Wednesday. Photo from The Hill

Foxx’s push was part of a flurry of highway funding activity this week, with all roads leading to the May 31 deadline of the latest highway funding patch — a 10-month extension of 2012’s MAP-21 that Congress passed when attempts at longer bills failed.

As reported by Overdrive last week, Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) are set to unveil a bipartisan proposal for a highway bill.

ATA, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce and AAA, also this week sent a letter to Congress urging them to increase fuel taxes to better fund U.S. infrastructure.

And two other highway funding proposals surfaced in recent days: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ambitious $1 trillion, five-year bill he’s dubbed the Rebuild America Act and a House bill that’s being called Transportation 2.0 — a six year, $170 billion bill.

At the Senate hearing this week, Foxx again pushed a four-year, $302 billion highway funding bill introduced by the White House last year, called the GROW AMERICA Act.

The bill went nowhere in Congress, however, and is likely doomed to the same fate this year in the now Republican-controlled Congress.

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