Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been quick to attack President Bush’s proposed budget for the 2003 fiscal year, vowing to restore funding for highway projects cut by the administration.
Lawmakers in both the House and Senate introduced legislation Thursday to restore funding for new highway projects that were cut in the President’s overall $2.13 billion proposal. Bush has proposed cutting funding for new highway projects for the new fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1, to $22.6 billion, from $32.1 billion this year.
Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) chairman of the House Transportation Committee, both introduced bills to restore $4.4 billion in highway funding.
Bush administration officials say they have to make the cuts due to passage of a law in 1998 that links spending of federal highway funds to money raised from the collection of federal taxes collected on fuel, tires and other products. The highway trust fund proceeds are down about $9 billion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department (see "Treasury Predicts Road-Building Fund Shortfall, 1/28/2002).
"The calculation of the adjustment is not a policy call on the part of the administration," Mary Peters, Federal Highway Administration head, said Thursday at a hearing of the House Transportation subcommittee on highways.
Some lawmakers say they are concerned the cutback in highway funding will mean the loss of many jobs, noting that for every $1 billion cut in funding for highway and bridge work, 40,000 jobs are lost.
The cut in the Bush budget proposal is just one of many domestic program cuts made by the president, who is seeking sharp increases in spending on defense and home security.
One area that is not seeing a cutback is in the area of federal truck safety enforcement. While the U.S. Transportation’s overall budget has been reduced, more money has been proposed to go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (See "Bush Proposes Transportation Budget, 2/5/2002.)