Congressman Barletta to vote ‘no’ to another patch for Highway Trust Fund

Republican Congressman Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, a cosponsor of the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act, said he has voted in favor of patching the Highway Trust Fund for the last time.

“I voted ‘yes’ this last time in hopes that we’re going to find funding for a long-term transportation bill. That’s my goal,” Barletta said in an interview.

Last week, Congress voted to extend authorization for funding surface transportation programs and to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through July 31. Lawmakers, who have extended the trust fund on a short-term basis more than 30 times, continue to debate how to pay for maintaining the nation’s roads, bridges and transit on a permanent basis.

Barletta said the legislation he supports, HR 1846, needs more co-sponsors to get it to the Ways and Means Committee.

“It’s a viable solution. It’s a green light to rebuild our infrastructure. We should not stop construction projects due to a lack of funding.”

Barletta said several states have ceased projects because planners don’t know if federal funds will be available. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association finds that six states have delayed or canceled projects valued at $1.59 billion out of concern over long-term federal highway funding.

HR 1846 would index gas and diesel user fees to inflation, and would be expected to raise about $27.5 billion in funding for infrastructure.

It was proposed by Republican Reps. Jim Renacci (OH-16) and Reid Ribble (WI-08), and Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) and Dan Lipinski (IL-03). Additionally, in order to reach a long-term funding solution, the bill calls for the creation of a bipartisan, bicameral Transportation Commission no later than Sept. 1. This group would be charged with determining a path forward for sustainable funding.

Barletta has said he would volunteer to sit on the committee, having grown up in the road construction business.
Barletta, who represents Pennsylvania’s 11th district, said his home state is suffering as much as the rest of the country. He said 22 percent of his district’s roads are in poor condition and 43 percent of its bridges are obsolete or structurally deficient.

Passage of the legislation would be positive for Barletta’s district. He explained construction companies are not going to invest $500,000 on a piece of construction equipment when the Highway Trust Fund is only funded for two months.

He has consistently said he believes any long-term solution must be a bipartisan effort. “Roads aren’t Republicans or Democrats,” he said.