LaHood Opens Washington Briefing with Call for Bipartisanship in Transportation Bills

AASHTO Journal, 2 March 2012

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a crowd of about 200 state transportation officials and industry leaders this week that the administration supports MAP-21, the surface transportation reauthorization bill currently on the Senate floor, even as he touted President Barak Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget as the best long-term solution for America’s transportation needs.LaHood was the keynote speaker Monday during the opening plenary session of the annual American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Washington Briefing.

The Senate bill (S 1813, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), LaHood said, is a bipartisan effort that funds transit out of the Highway Trust Fund. The Obama budget, however, would increase funding for all federal surface transportation programs by using the Highway Trust Fund and money previously set aside to fund Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts. (see Feb. 17 AASHTO Journal story)

“Look what [the president’s budget] does in a comprehensive way for transportation,” LaHood said. “It’s a good, good budget. It’s a good framework. It’s a good way for Congress to go — they should take the president’s blueprint and pass it.”

LaHood said he continues to oppose HR 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, which is the House version of a surface transportation reauthorization. (see related story on status of HR 7) The secretary said he prefers the Senate’s bipartisan approach.

“We like the Senate bill,” LaHood said. “We think it’s a good bill. And, we give a lot of credit to Sen. Boxer and Sen. Inhofe for working very well together.”

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-California, and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma and the committee’s ranking minority member, shepherded MAP-21 through the panel last year on a unanimous vote. (see Nov. 9 AASHTO Journal story) The Senate is currently debating MAP-21 on the floor. (see related story)

“There are no Republican or Democratic roads and there are no Republican or Democratic bridges,” he said. “There are American roads built by American workers. And there are American bridges built by American workers. Infrastructure is built by our friends and neighbors … not by some kind of political party.”

LaHood said that despite the current work by the House and Senate on transportation bills, it is unlikely that Congress will pass legislation before March 31, the last day of the current surface transportation extension.

A Transportation TV video of LaHood’s remarks to the AASHTO Washington Briefing is available at A slideshow of Washington Briefing photographs is available at This week’s “Transportation TV News Update” covering the Washington Briefing is available at

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