Senator Bob Corker on Thursday voted against the conference report on the Senate and House highway bills, while Senator Lamar Alexander supported it.
The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 83-16. The House also passed the bill by a vote of 359-65.
Senator Corker said, “I am extremely disappointed that both Republicans and Democrats have passed this gimmick-laden piece of legislation that weakens our nation and in no way pays for our country’s important infrastructure in real time. Yet again, Congress has pulled a fast one on the American people by painting a rosy picture so that they can feel good now but in reality Washington is throwing future generations under the bus by failing to put in place a long-term funding mechanism for the Highway Trust Fund.”
He said according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if the legislation is enacted, ?the Highway Trust Fund will run a nearly $100 billion shortfall between 2021 and 2025.
“This legislation does not solve the real problem. It simply kicks the can down the road,” added Senator Corker. “Both parties should be embarrassed that they have allowed the Highway Trust Fund to become one of the largest budgeting failures in the federal government. In coming years, Congress still will be faced with the challenge of putting in place a long-term funding mechanism for these important programs.”
Senator Alexander said,"Final passage of a five-year plan to reauthorize federal highway programs is good for Tennessee and will lead to more good-paying jobs in our state and across the nation.
“This bill is good for Tennessee, because we have seen over the last 30 years how good roads have helped to spread auto suppliers and good jobs across the state. This is the longest federal highway bill in 17 years, which provides stability and certainty – and is a more efficient use of taxpayer dollars. My preference for funding transportation bills is for highway users to pay for improvements to the highways, which is the course I hope Congress will take on future bills.
"The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, also known as the FAST Act, reauthorizes funding for federal transportation programs for five years which allows states to plan for more construction projects. The bill, which is fully paid for, provides federal funding for roads, bridges, and transit programs that are critically important to Tennessee’s economy. The bill also gives state transportation agencies more flexibility and streamlines the process to approve projects, which means projects can get done faster and cheaper. The bill also creates a new National Highway Freight Program to maintain heavily trafficked corridors, including several in Tennessee."