WASHINGTON — Days after Senate transportation leaders said they would take up a long-term highway bill, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx reminded a group here that many states would be forced to scale back projects if Congress does not advance such a plan before a May deadline.
“I think every state right now at this very minute is looking to develop their program of work for the summer, and I expect we’ll see more states pulling back because of the federal funding uncertainty,” Foxx told reporters after speaking at The Pew Charitable Trusts.
To his point, officials in Delaware, Tennessee and Arkansas have delayed work on upcoming highway projects because they do not know if the federal Highway Trust Fund would ensure sufficient backing. Officials from other states have indicated they plan to move in that direction. Those big-ticket construction projects typically involve trucks to move supplies and machinery.
While Senate Environment and Public Works Committee leaders announced they would take up a five- or six-year transportation reauthorization measure soon, their House counterparts have yet to illustrate their plan of action. Since federal funding authority is set to expire May 31, a number of industry officials say they are expecting lawmakers to opt for a short-term funding patch before then.
Asked about the likelihood of a short-term extension, Foxx told reporters: “Even if they were to extend into July using existing revenues, the brain damage they’d have to do to do a shorter-term extension after that would be about the same they’d have to experience to do a long-term big bill.”
He added: “So my view of it is if you’re going to do brain damage, make it count; make it count for the American people.”