Three leading Senate Democrats sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Tuesday urging him to reject transportation funding cuts proposed in pending legislation to fund the U.S. government beyond March 27.
Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Tim Johnson, D- S.D., and Jay Rockefeller, D- W. Va., expressed disappointment that the continuing resolution introduced Monday by Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., would cut federal highway spending by over $700 million dollars from the amount agreed to in the two-year transportation bill passed last year. Rogers said the CR is a responsible way to keep the federal government open after the current continuing resolution and federal funding authority expires in three weeks, but the trio of Senate committee chairmen said it could do great harm.
"Not adhering to these levels would ignore the will of Congress and hurt efforts to maintain safe roads and bridges, repair public transportation systems, improve driver safety, and help construction workers get back to work," they said.
Boxer chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, Johnson the Banking Committee, and Rockefeller the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
State transportation leaders already expressed their disagreement with the CR Tuesday.
Federal highway disbursements from the highway trust fund form an important revenue stream for state governments, which often use the money to back bonds.
Critics of the CR said the trust fund, which the Congressional Budget Office currently projects will remain solvent through 2014, has ample balance to fund the previously agreed-upon obligations.
"For the businesses and the working people of this country, for the drivers of cars and trucks, for the users of public transportation, for the safety of our families in this country, and for this economy, the House should restore the funding authorized for fiscal year 2013," the letter concludes.
The House is slated to consider the bill this week, if weather allows legislative business.