As members of Congress await legislation from President Barack Obama on a plan he hopes will create jobs, they face an impending crisis that could jeopardize hundreds of thousands of existing jobs. Lawmakers have yet to reach agreement on reauthorization or extension of funding for surface transportation. Failure to do so by September 30, when the current measure expires, would put almost a million jobs at risk nationwide.
Congress must also reauthorize or extend the provision allowing the federal government to collect fuel taxes by September 30. The 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax funds the surface transportation program.
Investment in infrastructure -- including $50 billion for roads, rails and airports -- was a major component of the jobs proposal Obama outlined Thursday, but he made no mention of the surface transportation bills.
If there is no extension of the $51.5 billion in funding, work on more than 134,000 road and bridge projects and about 5,000 transit projects will be suspended, according to the Department of Transportation. About 4,000 federal workers would face immediate furloughs. Inaction would jeopardize 12,170 jobs in Minnesota, 2,094 highway projects and 104 rail projects.