Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Let's take poison pills out of transportation bill and get working again
Letter to the Editor by Rep. Mike Thompson
While accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt pledged to our nation and himself a New Deal for the American People.
At the time, America was facing some of the Great Depression's darkest days. Infrastructure investments were the centerpiece of the New Deal because these investments were one of the strongest jump-starts for a struggling economy. Americans from all corners of our country were put to work modernizing our roads and bridges.
Nearly 80 years later, our nation is once again faced with high unemployment and slow economic growth. And once again we need bold investments to rebuild our nation's crumbling infrastructure. The best way to get our economy moving again is to put Americans back to work fixing our roads, schools and bridges.
This isn't a Republican priority or a Democratic priority. It's an American priority. As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently said, job creation is the most important priority facing our country as a whole. However, the majority leader and his party have kicked the can down the road, not once, but twice in the last year, refusing to pass long-term legislation that will fund transportation projects — instead passing very short-term extensions.
Now that a vote is expected on long-term legislation that would fund surface transportation projects, the House majority has filled the bill with poison pills.
Their bill halts funding for high-speed passenger rail projects. It opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil drilling. It ends important competitive grant funding for road improvements, port upgrades, bridge maintenance and light rail. It defunds bike and pedestrian projects. It ends funding that is used to build safer routes to schools. And it would allow for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline though an environmentally sensitive area before environmental reviews are complete.
Our national infrastructure earns a grade of D from the American Society of Civil Engineers. We cannot keep playing political games while jobs and infrastructure are at stake. We must pass a bill that is free of these poison pills so we can get construction projects moving and put folks back to work. We did this in 2005 by an overwhelming vote of 412-8. Now it is time to come together and do it again.
For every $1 billion invested in transportation, more than 30,000 jobs are created. A transportation bill free of poison pills would invest more than $300 billion in our roads and bridges, meaning we could create more than nine million jobs.
Our local communities will feel the positive economic impact of a bi-partisan transportation bill.
In Sonoma County, Highway 101 widening and bridge maintenance would create more than 9,000 jobs.
In Solano County, by updating the I-80/680/12 interchange, we can create 1,350 jobs. In Lake County, improvements to Highway 29 would create 900 jobs.
In Napa County, updating the 1st Street/Highway 29 intersection would create more than 500 jobs. And in Mendocino County, finishing the second phase of the Willits bypass would create more than 1,800 jobs.
Hard-working families across our district are looking for a fair shake. They want jobs. They want to get to work. And they want to know that if they work hard and play by the rules, then they will be able to put food on the table and gas in their car, make their mortgage payment, send their kids to college and save for retirement.
When FDR accepted the presidential nomination in 1932, folks across our county knew that making this fair shake a reality meant committing to shared responsibility — if we shared in the responsibility of building a great nation then we would share in the success of a great nation.
We made that commitment then. I know we can do it again. It's time to put partisan politics aside and work across the aisle to make that fair shake a reality. No more political games or poison pills. We need to get America working again for the folks who work for a living — and creating jobs by rebuilding our schools, roads and bridges is the best way to make that happen.