Tom Graves Gets an Amendment

July 15, 2014 9:30 am

by Eric The Younger · 11 comments

With all the recent hubbub about the impending default of the Highway Trust Fund there has been a bill that made it through the various House Committees and just recently exited the rules committee for a floor vote soon. It’s only a short term funding bill, but at least it’s something.

During its time in the Rules Committee, Georgia’s own Tom Graves was able to get an amendment to the bill in the spirit of his Transportation Empowerment Act.

The amendment itself adds a new section of things that Congress finds. It doesn’t have any substantive impact on the short term funding plan. But what it does do is set the tone for further discussion about how we fund transportation projects going forward.

Georgia may not have any representation on the Transportation Committees in either Chamber, but that’s not keeping Rep Tom Graves from having some effect. Bravo Zulu.

One thing I’m very curious about is did the White House endorse the House Republican plan before or after the amendment was approved?

Here’s the full text.

AMENDMENT TO H.R. 5021, AS REPORTED
OFFERED BY MR. GRAVES OF GEORGIA

At the end of section 1, insert the following (and
conform the table of contents accordingly):

1 SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
2 Congress finds that—
3 (1) the existing Highway Trust Fund system is
4 unsustainable and unable to meet our Nation’s 21st
5 century transportation needs;

 6 (2) MAP-21 included important reforms that
7 must be built upon in the next reauthorization bill
8 to increase the efficient and effective utilization of
9 Federal funding;

10 (3) these reforms should include the elimination
11 of duplicative Federal regulations and increase the
12 authority and responsibility of the States to safely
13 and efficiently build, operate, and fund transport-
14 tation systems that best serve the needs of their citi-
15 zens, including the ability of each State to imple-
16 ment innovative solutions, while also maintaining the
17 appropriate Federal role in transportation; and

1 (4) Congress should enact and the President
2 should sign a surface transportation reauthorization
3 and reform bill prior to the expiration of this Act.

Harry July 15, 2014 at 9:55 am
The Last Democrat in Georgia July 15, 2014 at 10:29 am

Thanks for the link, Harry.

Charlie July 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm

From the Georgia Chamber of Commerce:

Georgia Chamber Welcomes House Action on Critical Transportation Funding
Urges Long Term Authorization

Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, to extend funding for the Federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) until May 2015.

Georgia currently receives 62% of its transportation construction funding from the HTF, which will become insolvent next month if Congress does not pass legislation extending its funding. This could result in the Georgia Department of Transportation ceasing approval of construction contracts until Congress approves the HTF funding.

“The Georgia Chamber thanks Congress for taking action on this critical transportation funding legislation and especially members of the Georgia House delegation who voted in support of this bill,” said Georgia Chamber president and CEO Chris Clark. “While we are glad to see this critical issue moving forward, we also hope that the Congress will work between now and when the term of this legislation expires to adopt a long term solution that will offer more stability for states.”

“As the State of Georgia is renewing efforts to address our transportation needs, it is encouraging to see that our partners in the federal government are also working towards a solution,” said Michael Sullivan, Chairman of the Georgia Transportation Alliance. “It is going to take support from all sides to ensure that we develop a solid long term plan to fund critical transportation infrastructure needs.”

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on H.R. 5021 tomorrow.

Charlie July 15, 2014 at 5:16 pm

From Congressman Tom Price:

Price Statement on Highway Trust Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06), vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014.

“Our roads and highways are a cornerstone of the foundation of our nation’s economy,” said Rep. Price. “When they are safe and accessible, they bring more jobs and more opportunity to our communities. When they are in disrepair or overwhelmed, they can be one of the largest impediments to economic growth.

“Folks in Georgia – particularly those who live and work in the metro Atlanta area – know all too well how important it is that we address our local, state and regional transportation infrastructure needs. It’s a set of challenges that demand a longer-term solution than what the House has passed today or upon which Congress is currently not prepared to act. That being said, it would make little sense to inject more turmoil or uncertainty into the circumstances by doing nothing while Congress has yet to decide on broader and necessary reforms. In the weeks and months to come, I look forward to working with my colleagues on long-term reforms that will give states greater flexibility and authority to make decisions about the transportation needs of their communities.”

c_murrayiii July 15, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Transportation and Infrastructure are going to be major impediments to growth in the state and the nation if we don’t start taking the issue seriously. We can’t function and compete in the modern world with a transportation system built in the 1950’s. We need more funding, more innovation, and more leadership from both parties and all major industries. Government alone can’t solve the problem, but we need state and Federal governments to leverage their assets and lead on the issue. It all starts with the funding stream, we need something more appropriate than the current gas tax. Vehicle Miles Traveled is the most sensible in terms of maintaining the spirit of “user pays.”

Eric The Younger July 15, 2014 at 6:42 pm

You had me until the VMT tax. Each pilot program has been different, but they all have a long way to go before being acceptable to the general public.

TheEiger July 16, 2014 at 8:50 am

Why can’t we increase the gas tax to to account for more fuel efficient cars and adjust it for inflation? There is no need to have the government track our miles traveled. You pay for the road you use by the gas you purchase. Shorter commute means less gas purchased. Those of us who have decided to live in the suburbs will pay more in motor fuel tax because we use more of the road and purchase more gas. There is no need to have Vehicle Miles Traveled. It will just be another layer of government that isn’t necessary.

Eric The Younger July 16, 2014 at 9:08 am

Because that would make sense and Congress seems to be allergic to sensible policy.

TheEiger July 16, 2014 at 9:12 am

We could do this at the state level too.

Lea Thrace July 16, 2014 at 9:32 am

Because that would make sense and the State Legislature seems to be allergic to sensible policy…

TheEiger July 16, 2014 at 9:49 am

That is true too. We have a complete lack of leadership across the board. Also, there is a way to increase the motor fuel tax at the state level without having the legislature vote for it. The Governor and the revenue commissioner can do it on their own. But that takes leadership.

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