Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), member of the Finance Committee and chairman of the Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, participated in the Finance Committee markup of the Preserving America’s Transit and Highways (PATH) Act. The PATH Act would sustain the Highway Trust Fund through the calendar year, ensuring that the federal government is able to meet its commitments to reimburse states for certain transportation projects.

A copy of Sen. Carper's opening statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Hatch, this markup we are holding today is critical for each of our states, and our country. The Highway Trust Fund is nearing insolvency as soon as July. Letting the Trust Fund go over the brink would leave our states holding the bag for projects that the federal government had promised to be a partner in building.

“As a former governor, I know how important that federal partnership is. It ensures that America has a coordinated transportation network that can support a 21st century American economy that can compete and win in the global market place. And investing in transportation isn’t just about creating jobs, it’s about supporting the growth and success of private sector businesses, and linking people to goods and services.

“Last month, the Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan six-year transportation bill. Sending such a long-term bill to the president’s desk is a top priority of mine.

“States need this long-term certainty to fund larger and more complicated projects that contribute the most to economic competitiveness and growth. In other words, a long term bill is the most effective use of taxpayer funds, ensuring we get the biggest bang for our buck when it comes to transportation investments.

“That is why I filed an amendment that would fund such a bill. My amendment would gradually restore the purchasing power of the 1993 gas tax through three annual four-cent increases, and then index it to inflation. This would cover a six-year bill at level funding plus inflation. I actually think we should consider increasing funding in infrastructures, but in the meantime, we should at least pay for what we’re already spending.

“When you think about it, gas prices can go up and down four cents or more in the course of a week, so four cents in a year is a pretty reasonable price to pay for having good quality roads and transit, and safe bridges.

“Things that are worth having are worth paying for, and after transferring $54 billion into the Highway Trust Fund in recent years, this is the most fiscally responsible thing we can do. However, in the mean time I will support this short-term measure to get us into the fall and to ensure that the Highway Trust Fund doesn't become insolvent in the middle of peak construction season and inflict further economic harm.

“I was glad that a major provision from my TAX GAP Act was used to offset a significant portion of the cost of this bill.

“Later this year, Congress must make some hard decisions about the future of our nation’s transportation programs. I look forward to that conversation and I am eager to join my colleagues from both parties, stakeholders, and the administration in enacting a common sense and fiscally responsible long-term transportation bill by the end of this year."