Mineta's speech frustrates senators

News ARTBA March 10, 2004
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta appeared before the Senate Transportation, Treasury and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee to defend the Bush Administration's FY 2005 budget proposal for transportation. The Administration has proposed flat-lining highway and transit investment at the FY 2004 levels ($33.6 billion for highways; $7.3 billion for transit) through 2009.

"Our revised proposal would continue the funding levels for the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration enacted in FY 2004 for each year 2005 through 2009," said Mineta. "Moreover, the FY 2005 President's budget request includes annual increases beginning in 2005 through 2009 for both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure that improvements in safety are enhanced."

Following Mineta's statement, several senators expressed frustration with the Administration's position on the reauthorization of TEA-21, particularly in light of the 76-21 recent Senate vote in favor of significantly increasing federal highway and transit investment in the Senate-passed surface transportation program reauthorization bill.

"At some point, we are going to have to spend more money on these programs," said Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah). "If the President were to come back after the election and say we need to raise the gas tax for the first time since Ronald Reagan did it, he would find a sympathetic ear in this senator."

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