Carper on Transportation Bill: We Missed a Tremendous Opportunity to Do What’s Right

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works committee, released the following statement after voting against the conference agreement for H.R. 22, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015.

“It would be difficult to find a member of the United States Senate who is more dedicated to responsibly investing in our country’s roads, highways, bridges, and transit systems. So my decision to vote against this bill should make a clear statement: I cannot support a piece of legislation that falls well short of the obligation Congress has to fix our broken Highway Trust Fund. Sadly, Congress has opted to pilfer tomorrow’s dollars to pay for today’s need to rebuild and modern our country’s transportation system. While this bill includes some good transportation policies, the way we pay for these policies is unsustainable and irresponsible, offering little more than a grab bag of budget gimmicks that will actually increase our deficit in the long run. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has already told us that when this bill expires, the Highway Trust Fund will be $100 billion in the hole 

“Since its inception, the Highway Trust Fund has supported construction and upkeep of America’s transportation system with user fees paid by those who use it. I’m deeply disappointed that this bill diverges from that principle, which has worked so well for more than half a century. Instead Congress demands that just about everyone in our country pay more for our transportation system, except for the people who actually use our roads and highways. This is absurd. It’s not unfair to ask those who actually use our nation’s transportation system to pay a little more for its upkeep and expansion.  To be clear, pickpocketing revenues from unrelated programs for years to come in order to pay for today’s potholes and failing bridges is as cowardly as it is illogical.

“I know bipartisan agreement in Washington on just about anything these days is difficult to achieve, and so I commend the conferees on their strong bipartisan effort, but I cannot in good conscience support this deeply flawed bill just for the sake of saying we got something done.”