BAF Demands Congress Focus on Rail Safety

June 2, 2015

The co-chairs of Building America’s Future on June 2 voiced their frustration and disappointment in Congress’ continued lack of leadership on modernizing our nation’s transportation systems. The critical safety questions surrounding the horrific Amtrak derailment on May 12, and the recent weight and traffic restrictions placed on the Memorial Bridge continue to highlight the deplorable condition of the nation’s transportation network. 

The recent passage of another short-term patch to keep the nation’s Highway Trust Fund from bankruptcy is an example of the Band-Aid and duct tape approach to addressing the safety of our transportation network.  That patch will fund the surface transportation bill and the HTF for two months – until July 31 – at which time the HTF will be mere days away from bankruptcy.  BAF’s co-chairs are calling on Congress to use the next two months to draft and pass a long-term transportation bill instead of working towards another short-term patch to keep the HTF flush past July 31.

“This is pathetic. We cannot stay economically competitive as a nation if we continue to neglect the absolutely critical safety investments in the infrastructure that keeps our country moving,” said BAF co-chair and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. “I’ve testified before Congress more times than I can count on how urgent this is, and everyone in the room says they agree with me. And then they go and do nothing. It is past time for action. Congress needs to pass a long-term bill and it needs to do it now.”

“America is one big pothole and Congress has the power to fix it. But instead of showing leadership and courage, Congress is kicking the can down the road again,” said BAF co-chair and former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “We need a real solution now: a long-term funding bill that will ensure the safety of the millions of Americans who travel on our roads and bridges every day. The Highway Trust Fund built this nation’s highway system, and if we’re going to maintain that system we need a Trust Fund that is big enough and reliable enough to do the job. It has been starved for too long and the country continues to pay the price for Congress’ inaction.”

"Congress is once again kicking the can down a pot-hole filled road, and as a result, we’re losing a crucial part of our competitive edge in the global economy,” said BAF co-chair and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “If we want to keep moving forward as a nation, we need Congress to get moving on a long-term transportation bill that will put our economy on track for higher levels of growth."