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WV Representatives help pass Highway Transportation Funding Act

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On July 15, West Virginia's Congressional delegation joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to pass a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would help keep American workers on the job building the nation’s transportation network.

The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (H.R. 5021), replenishes the Highway Trust Fund and extends current surface transportation law through May 2015. Passage of the bill would get states through the remainder of the construction season while allowing Congress time to pass a longer-term surface transportation law.

U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., voted for the measure and said in a statement it was "far more than accounting, dollar signs and trust funds."

“It’s about the men and women who work in these industries and have to face needless uncertainty about their futures,” Rahall said in a news release. “It’s about those that rely on public transit systems. And it’s about the driving public who must endure aging infrastructure and the car repair bills and safety concerns that come with it. I voted for this bill not because it’s the best solution, but because it averts an immediate crisis and keeps the ball rolling.”

Rahall has long argued in the past that a robust, long-term surface transportation bill is the only way to truly address the nation’s infrastructure challenges.

“A long-term bill is one of the few surefire ways to boost our economy, create jobs and help us compete with our global rivals,” Rahall said on the House floor. “We need greater investment in our roads and bridges. We need an increased focus on moving freight across borders and overseas. We should grow regional collaborations to build significant projects. And we must bring every possible transportation job back to the U.S. to be done by American workers.”

The bill was passed the House by a vote of 367-55. A similar measure has been approved by a Senate committee, but it has not been voted on in the full Senate.

On July 14, Rahall was in Charleston joined by U.S. Rep. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Secretary Anthony Foxx with the U.S. Department of Transportation and Secretary Paul Mattox of the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

Foxx was discussing a bill, The Grow America Act, he hopes will address state issues when it comes to fixing the national transportation infrastructure.

He helped introduce the bill in Congress to address the state’s road issues across the country.

“I would like to be coming with some resources to try to address secondary road issues, bridge repairs,” Foxx said. “I’m not coming with resources, because frankly, in Washington, things are stuck.”

Foxx said the system is “on the brink of insolvency” when it comes to the United States transportation infrastructure.

The Highway Trust Fund is meant to provide about $87 billion to address the nation’s aging bridges and roads, create millions of new jobs, increase safety across the surface of transportation, provide certainty to state and local governments, among other things. U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted for the bill.

“As a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, I have long been committed to improving West Virginia’s highway infrastructure and addressing the shortfall in the federal Highway Trust Fund. The House has acted to provide certainty to states worried about the future of their road and bridge projects – in West Virginia alone, more than 200 projects are currently receiving federal funding.

“Thanks to this bill, these projects will be able to continue uninterrupted, and state highway departments will be able to budget accordingly and plan ahead. Highway investment is crucial to West Virginia, and I am proud to vote yes to shore up the trust fund and rebuild our highways and bridges. I hope the Senate will follow the House in passing a common-sense highway bill and investing in our nation’s transportation future,” Capito said.


And Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said in a news release his background in construction helps him understand the importance of funding the measure.

“For months, the House has been conducting bipartisan negotiations to continue the funding of the Highway Trust Fund without raising taxes,” McKinley said.  “The passage of this bill was critical in keeping more than 700,000 construction workers on the job and improving the safety of roads, bridges and highways.”

McKinley pointed out the House identified the necessary money for the fund without raising taxes.

“We prefer a long term solution that provides certainty over a period of five to six years but that wasn’t the plan that was presented to us,” he said.  “We need to continue working together to develop a plan that will make long term investments in our infrastructure.”