Democratic U.S. Reps. Tim Walz and Rick Nolan, Minnesota’s members of Congress on the House Transportation Committee, back President Obama’s proposal to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems.
Obama released his plan this week at St. Paul’s refurbished Union Depot, saying that boosting infrastructure spending was one of the best ways to put people to work.
“I’m certainly on board with the president and his goals here,” said Nolan, a member of the panel’s subcommittee on highways and transit. “It’s essential for jobs, business and our future prosperity and safety.”
In a largely gridlocked Washington, both parties agree that spending on highways and other transportation infrastructure is necessary.
Obama and U.S. Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the chairman of the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee, want tax code revisions to fund the infrastructure improvements.
But how to pay for the upgrades is where they diverge.
The president's plan calls for spending $302 billion over four years. Camp’s plan would raise less than half that total through a one-time tax on corporate overseas profits.
“We’re certainly not going to agree on everything, but let’s make progress where we can, like on a bipartisan, robust transportation bill that creates jobs and makes our communities safer,” Walz said.
Both parties are looking for new funding because current financing for highways is falling short. The 18.4-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax and 24.4-cent-a-gallon tax on diesel fuel haven't been raised in 20 years.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said while traveling with the president that the Highway Trust Fund, which finances the federal highway system, could run dry by August.
With the current transportation bill expiring at the end of September, Obama urged Congress to pass new legislation this summer.