The House passed a continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded through September on March 6. However, in an attempt to soften the effects of the sequester, transportation spending was pushed into the firing line.
By a 267-151 margin, which included 50 approving Democrats, the proposal passed, but Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) quickly slammed the measure because it goes against funding levels authorized by Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the lawmakers stated that the $105 billion—about $54 billion in 2013 and ’14—committed to transportation was “fully paid for” by the 18.4-cent-per-gal federal gas tax and a package of fee increases and closing tax loopholes.
“Instead of persevering the funding levels authorized in MAP-21, this continuing resolution would apply an across-the-board reduction to the funding levels included in MAP-21 that would result in transportation spending levels even lower than those enacted in FY 2012, and in certain cases would apply drastic reductions to highway-safety programs,” the letter stated. “MAP-21 passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support, and the commitments made in that bill must be kept.
“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.”