Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., asked Senate leaders to clear the way for the six-month extension.
"One of the best ways to spur job creation and economic recovery is through infrastructure investment," they said in a letter Tuesday to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "That is why a longer term extension of the surface transportation program is so important to maintaining our nation's vital bridges, roads, public transportation and other related infrastructure, restoring our economy and creating good jobs for American workers."
Boxer and Inhofe, the chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, respectively, were joined by the leaders of other key Senate committees: Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., of Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, of Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Max Baucus, D-Mont., of Finance.
In July, the Banking and Commerce Committees passed the 18-month extension of the program that the White House wants, but the Senate has been unable to come to terms on that timing, and the program has been continued under short extensions. The House, meanwhile, has continued to press for immediate consideration of a multi-year bill. (See "Highway Reform Face-Off on Capitol Hill," 7/17/09)
"We believe a multi-month extension … is the best solution," Boxer and the others wrote. "It would give states the certainty they need to plan and contract for transportation infrastructure projects. The Department of Transportation estimates that every $1 billion spent on transportation and matched by the states supports approximately 35,000 jobs. It would also give the Department of Transportation's highway safety agencies the certainty they need to continue implementing safety-critical programs that keep motorists safe on our roads."