Carper Statement on Transportation Legislation

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement after voting against the McConnell transportation deal, and voting in favor of a three-month extension of the country’s transportation programs, which has been passed by the House and will go to President Obama for his signature.

“It would be difficult to find someone who dislikes short-term fixes for the Highway Trust Fund more than me, but even I can see that pressing the pause button is sometimes the best move. Over the past few days, transportation legislation has been rushed through the Senate at record pace. I recognize that some of my colleagues, particularly Senators Boxer and Inhofe, have put in a lot of hard work to negotiate and advance a multi-year transportation bill. But frankly, since this bill passed unanimously out of the Environment and Public Works Committee, the process has been disappointing at best. While I am encouraged by the newfound dedication and attention to this critical issue in the Senate, unfortunately a flawed process has yielded a flawed bill.

“At the end of the day, the McConnell deal is too short, too small, and too full of policies that need more thought. This is truly a missed opportunity. I know that we can do better.

“The McConnell deal barely provides three years of funding, at a level well below what is needed to shore up our nation’s highways, bridges, transit, and rail systems. It leaves a $56 billion budget hole that must be filled if we are to actually fund the bill beyond the first three years. We should provide more resources for our new freight program so we can move goods and cargo around the country quickly and efficiently. There should be dedicated funding for our passenger rail programs so we can keep our tracks, bridges and tunnels in a state of good repair. And we have an obligation to do more to keep Americans safe as they travel by all modes of transportation.

“If I were a Congress of one, I would fund six years of policy that meets all these requirements by gradually raising gas and diesel taxes by a modest amount, and indexing them to inflation. I will continue to discuss this common sense idea with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as well as listening to any serious idea for how we can actually fix the Highway Trust Fund once and for all.

“But despite the areas I believe need improvement and my ideas on how to fund them, today I remain hopeful. We still have an opportunity before us to do something big on transportation – something we haven’t been able to muster the courage or foresight to do in years. There is an appetite on both sides of the Capitol, and at the White House, to approve a real six-year transportation bill and fund it with revenue from overhauling our outdated international tax code. The three-month extension I supported today gives us some of the time we need to make this plan a reality. With some hard work across party lines, and a willingness to do what’s right for this country, I know we are up to the task.”