Mid-Term Election a Wake-Up Call to Legislators

While the Mid-Term elections may have been a referendum on the state of the country and economy, it is less certain what it means for the transportation industry.

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) said in a statement, “The midterm election is over, but the 113th Congress’ work is not done. NSSGA and its coalition partners are continuing to keep the pressure on Congress to pass a long-term funding mechanism to assure the stability and sustainability of the Highway Trust Fund. NSSGA asks you to reach out to your lawmakers to urge them to take action to save the HTF.

“The timing of the lame duck congress coincides with the lowest gas prices since 2010. The time is now for Congress to deal with this pressing national priority. They passed a short-term extension that is expected to fund the program through May 2015, but there are no guarantees. Tennessee last week delayed $393 million in highway projects due to the uncertainty of federal funding. Let’s keep the pressure on for action this year.”

Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), was forceful in issuing the following statement:

“This evening, voters across America made it clear that they think Washington is broken, and they expect our elected leaders to come together to fix it. Americans have grown tired of the gridlock and partisan bickering that has plagued Capitol Hill in recent years. With tonight’s election, they have sent a clear signal that they want action on the problems facing this nation. It is far past time for our lawmakers to put aside partisan differences and work together toward crafting constructive solutions. The new leadership in the U.S. Senate must now demonstrate they can move America forward.

“That means no more threats of government shutdowns or risking defaulting on our national debt, and an end to pointless show votes that serve no purpose but to energize each party’s ideological core at the expense of productive legislating.

“Equipment manufacturers and the broader business community share voters’ frustration. The good news is that there is ample opportunity for President Obama and Congress to work together on commonsense solutions. Those efforts should begin without delay; there’s no excuse for Congress to waste the next two months by failing to deal with issues that demand their attention now.

“An immediate order of business for Congress should be responsibly fixing the Highway Trust Fund by restoring the gas tax to its 1993 buying power while oil prices are at recent record lows. Congress can continue to boost access to affordable energy by approving construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“They can rally around commonsense legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for the long term and give American manufacturers the tools they need to compete in the global marketplace and support jobs in the United States. Lawmakers should give President Obama improved authority to negotiate trade deals and move toward swiftly approving pending trade deals with our European and Asian partners.

“And there is both ample room and great need for Congress to find a bipartisan solution to fixing a tax system that has become so complex and burdensome that it is now a barrier to job creation.

“The 114th Congress faces a choice: They can repair their broken bond with voters, or they can continue down their current path and risk turning their relationship with voters into something more toxic. On behalf of the equipment manufacturing industry, I sincerely hope that President Obama, Speaker Boehner and our Senate leaders opt for progress over provocation.”

Patrick D. Jones, executive director and CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), the worldwide association of toll facility owners and operators and the business that serve them, said:

“The transportation ballot initiatives in Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin are strong evidence that states are not waiting for the federal government to act. Reflecting ongoing concerns over the future of the federal surface transportation reauthorization, state and local governments are embracing homegrown ways to tackle their infrastructure funding challenges.

“As we move into 2015, we need to make sure that states and localities have maximum flexibility to use the funding and financing tools that are most appropriate for them to build and maintain their vital surface transportation infrastructure.

“Whatever the final outcome of today’s Congressional elections, we are hopeful that the next Congress can, at the very least, enable the states to consider all transportation funding alternatives available. Tolling, fuel taxes, road usage charges and infrastructure banks are all valuable tools to be considered and used appropriately.

“There are no free roads. It’s time to make tough choices to ensure that drivers are safe, our infrastructure is well maintained and our economy is moving.”

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