WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said any comprehensive measure that would address the country’s highway funding concerns will be called “unrealistic,” which was the term a top Senate Republican used to criticize the Obama administration’s latest transportation plan last week.
“It’s time to be unrealistic. It’s time for the country to take some bold steps forward and to get passed this sort of impasse,” Foxx said, at an event hosted by Bloomberg Government on April 27 that also featured Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Foxx added, “What the president, and I, and Jack, and all of us are trying to do is to put forward a proposal that is big enough to meet the country’s challenges. Frankly, the conventional wisdom is that we’ll just extend ourselves to infinity. But the reality is, and I can tell you this having been a mayor, is that what that’s going to do is choke the system up.”
Last week, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the transportation funding subcommittee, told Foxx that parts of the administration’s $95 billion transportation budget request for fiscal 2016 were “unrealistic.” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Collins’ counterpart in the House, also was not a fan of the budget request, referring to it as "borderline fantasy.”
GOP leaders from both chambers are expected to advance measures with funding levels that are considerably lower than the administration’s request. They also are expected to reject the administration’s six-year, $478 billion Grow America Act transportation plan. That proposal would be financed with revenue from a one-time 14% tax on those earnings U.S. corporations have kept overseas.