Congress Needs a Clue

And here’s how you can help

Lawmakers have once again managed to kick the can down the road with their $10.8 billion measure that will fund highway and bridge repairs until the spring of 2015. While it’s great that we avoided immediate insolvency for the transportation fund, I think we’re all feeling complete disappointment that there was not a long-term fix achieved.

When will these lawmakers understand that there are some very real consequences to all their indecisiveness in Washington?

For example, last month, a report featured in ARTBA’s Washington Newsline, showed that highway construction work dropped sharply in June, wiping out market gains from the previous seven months amid this uncertainty over the federal highway bill and the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The real value of highway work was $4.2 billion in June 2014, down from $4.7 billion in June 2013, when adjusted for material prices and inflation.

According to the report, this was the first month-to-like-month decline since November 2013 and the largest decline in the past year.

“The point here is simple: there are real, substantial costs associated with Congress’s inability to pass a long-term highway bill,” says Michael O’Brien, public affairs manager, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). “The lawmakers’ prolonged struggle to rally even around a short-term patch to the HTF leeched millions from the economy in June, and it’s not as though the measure Congress passed at the end of last month added tremendous certainty to highway construction projects.”

The best way to handle the helpless feeling you may be experiencing because of Washington’s actions (or lack thereof) is to get out there and rally support in any possible way. Most American’s polled are on our side – they want less traffic congestion and better roads to drive on.

While this issue is getting some widespread attention – I’ve seen many local papers tackling the topic of road funding and how it affects their area and even Jon Stewart did a segment on The Daily Show focusing on the highway bill – it doesn’t hurt to keep pushing for a long-term bill and a fix for the HTF.

ARTBA has some great resources to help you get started. Its Grassroots Action Hotline (888-448-2782) offers a direct connection to members of the House and Senate. All you have to do is provide your home zip code.

It also has a free “Transportation Construction Advocate” app, which is available in both the iTunes and Google Play app stores. The app provides users with key information to convey to elected leaders, including “Talking Points,” “Facts & Stats” about the industry’s economic impact, and a “Feedback” button to provide instant reports about meetings and conversations with lawmakers.

It’s been a tough fight -- unfortunately, it isn’t over. We have to keep fighting until a long-term highway bill is realized.

Go! Fight! Win!