Congressman, Highway Groups Decry DOT Budget Crisis

Congressman, Highway Groups Decry DOT Budget Crisis

Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., sharply criticized the senator whose actions threaten to shut down major U.S. Department of Transportation as public officials and highway groups called on Congress to overcome the impasse as quickly as possible.

“It’s outrageous that one senator can kill a piece of legislation and cause chaos for our cities and states,” said Carnahan. “Thanks to one senator’s stubbornness, Missouri will not be reimbursed for its federal share of highway projects until we get this mess sorted out. This threatens important transportation projects and the livelihoods of construction workers during these already tough times.”

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., derailed a bill to extend funding for transportation programs on Friday and DOT agencies including the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration were preparing to shut down programs and furlough workers starting Monday.

Because Congress will not be back in session until Tuesday, the DOT could face a funding crisis at least through March 2 and likely beyond.

"We are deeply concerned about the severe impacts to state and local transportation programs of this disruption of the federal highway and transit programs," said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in a statement.

Joni Casey, President and CEO of the Intermodal Association of North America, said, “IANA is hopeful that Congress will resolve the budget impasse expeditiously. Failure to reauthorize in the short term, should have minimal impact on day-to-day intermodal operations. However, longer term delays could adversely affect multimodal infrastructure programs that are in the pipeline.”

The Americans for Transportation Mobility, a coalition of various business groups in Washington, issued a statement saying it was “disappointed that Congress is allowing the federal highway and transit programs … to expire.”

Horsley said Democratic leaders in the House and Senate had reached an agreement to have the House pass a version of legislation for highway and transit programs. “We hope Congress can move this legislation as early in the week as possible so reimbursements to the states can resume,” he said.