(July 7, 2011) -- Today House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) presented an outline for a new highway and transit bill that would set transportation policies for the next six years. Access the bill summary here.
The American Highway Users Alliance (Highway Users) supports Chairman Mica's decision to move forward with a bill that reforms transportation policy, cuts bureaucracy and red tape, and expedites the delivery of important projects that will move our economy forward. Our members look forward to a detailed review of the bill language as soon as it is released.
According to Highway Users President & CEO Greg Cohen, "Faced with tight funding constraints from the House's conservative budget resolution, Mica has been forced to make tough funding decisions. We wish highway funding levels were higher, but we think it's important that, rather than cut all programs equally, he took a courageous step in saying 'No' to many of the special interest groups that wanted to hold the money in Washington or mandate wasteful diversions."
"By eliminating earmarks for Members of Congress and the Obama Administration, funding in the bill will be distributed more quickly to States as part of a new 'performance-based' transportation program. By expediting project delivery, life-saving, economically critical highway projects won't be stuck on the drawing board for decades."
Cohen added, "Mica's focus appears to be prioritizing the programs that truly serve the national interest and reducing the cost of doing business with the federal government. We are very pleased that Mica is sparing life-saving safety programs from cuts and that the National Highway System(NHS) will be among the highest construction priorities."
The NHS, which includes the Interstate Highways, make up only 4% of America's roads but carry 40% of all traffic, including 75% of heavy truck traffic and 90% of tourist traffic. In many ways, the NHS is America's economic lifeline.
Since 1956, when the Interstate Highway System was first authorized by Congress, the highway program has been a tremendous aid to our nation's economy and has improved the prosperity and quality-of-life in communities from coast-to-coast. The program has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. But in recent years, under both Republican and Democratic watch, the program had been given a black eye by waste, earmarking and fuel tax diversion. The Mica bill is focused on restoring integrity to the program.
Cohen stated, "The more the public knows about the priorities in the Mica bill, the more they will support paying for it with the federal highway user fees on fuel, trucks, and tires. And make no mistake, we will soon need to pay more user fees to build a better system that we can be proud to give our children. But for now, we are pleased that Mica is taking the first step to restoring public trust by genuinely pursuing reform."
"We also look forward to the imminent release of the bipartisan Senate bill, which we hope will also include many of the same reforms and a higher investment level," said Cohen.
The American Highway Users Alliance represents motorists, RV enthusiasts, truckers, bus companies, motorcyclists, and a broad cross-section of businesses that depend on safe and efficient highways to transport their families, customers, employees, and products. Highway Users members pay the taxes that finance the federal highway program and advocate public policies that dedicate those taxes to improved highway safety and mobility.