Levin Floor Statement on Highway Trust Fund Patch

Jul 15, 2014

I will support this legislation because we are at the 11th hour – and now it’s not the 11th hour, it’s a few minutes before midnight. Unless Congress acts by the end of this month, more than 100,000 transportation projects could be delayed, and as many as 700,000 jobs put at risk.

But this legislation is a patch, and what our nation’s infrastructure needs is a major repair.

Doing nothing is not an option. But we should be doing much better.

The Republicans in this House talk a lot about the need for certainty, but they have riddled infrastructure funding with uncertainty.

The fact that we are in this position illustrates just how little House Republicans have done since they assumed the majority in 2011 to address the long-term problems facing the Trust Fund and this nation’s infrastructure.

Every Democrat on Ways and Means in January urged Chairman Camp to hold a series of hearings on long-term financing options for the Trust Fund. Yet the Committee has not held a single hearing on the topic in the three years and six months that Republicans have been in the majority.

Since 2011, the committee has held almost two dozen hearings on repealing or dismantling the Affordable Care Act. And in the last 14 months, a half dozen hearings on the IRS.

Those are not the priorities that are going to lead to a long-term solution of the Trust Fund.

This nation deserves better than the short shrift. It needs a long term solution. Democrats on Ways and Means proposed an extension until December 31 in order to pressure a long term solution this year. All of us on the Democratic side voted yes, and all of the Republicans voted no.

Let me end with a word on unemployment insurance. Senate Democrats and Republicans passed a bill to extend unemployment insurance that included an almost identical set of offsets as those included in today’s legislation. The House Republicans refused to take up that measure.

At the time, Republicans called the offsets “pie in the sky” in opposing the plan.

Well here we are today on the floor of the U.S. House – and three million Americans are still waiting for House Republicans to allow just one vote on a bipartisan plan to extend unemployment benefits.

It’s time that House Republicans get their priorities straight.