Washington – Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney and John Larson were among the minority of House members to vote against a bill Tuesday that would allow federal highway money to continue to flow to the states — but only for another two months.
The Connecticut lawmakers voted against the bill because they want a longer-term solution to the nation’s transportation problem.
But most of their colleagues decided to support another short-term fix.
Lawmakers voted 387-35 on Tuesday to authorize two more months of transportation spending t0 give themselves time to negotiate a longer fix to the problem posed by the depletion of the highway trust fund, a pot of money, funded in part by gasoline taxes, that hasn’t kept up with the nation’s transportation costs.
The current highway bill is set to expire May 31, during Congress’s week-long Memorial Day break. But the highway trust fund is estimated to have enough funding until the end of June. After that, the amount of money the federal government would deliver the states — which exceeds $600 million a year in Connecticut — will drop dramatically unless Congress acts again.
The last major transportation bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005. Since it expired in 2009, transportation funding has been authorized through about a dozen short-term bills.
“This will be the sixth summer in a row we have gone without a long-term transportation bill,” said Larson. “Congress should stay in session until we pass a bill that funds our nation’s infrastructure needs. Infrastructure is neither Democratic nor Republican; it is American, and it is necessary.”
Courtney and DeLauro have also indicated they opposed another short term bill.
But Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, and Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, voted for the legislation.
“Unfortunately, immediate action was needed to once again pass a short-term extension for Highway Trust Fund programs,” Esty said. “Is this a perfect solution? No. However, it would be irresponsible for Congress to abandon our obligations in the midst of Connecticut’s construction season.”
The Senate also hopes to vote on the two-month highway bill this week.