By Dave Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA
Meeting with members of Congress while they are in their home states and districts remains one of the most powerful ways to influence their priorities. Hearing directly from constituents about the importance of federal policy matters, such as the Highway Trust Fund’s (HTF) recurring revenue shortfalls, can help those issues break through the constant noise on Capitol Hill.
The House of Representatives is on its summer break until after Labor Day, and the Senate has recessed for the next two weeks. This means members of your congressional delegation will likely be home and accessible.
A number of ARTBA member firms and state contractor affiliates routinely take advantage of this opportunity to meet with members of Congress and/or invite them to tour company facilities and construction sites. As an example, CRH Americas will be hosting more than 25 congressional visits over the next month.
While the Trump administration’s infrastructure package did not include an HTF fix, the president’s advisors routinely promote his openness to solving the problem. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) recently unveiled a plan that calls for increasing the gas tax by 15 cents and diesel tax by 20 cents. These developments illustrate that addressing the HTF’s revenue shortfall continues to garner high-level attention in Washington.
It is our responsibility to continue this momentum and make sure all members of Congress know fixing the HTF is a priority for their constituents. While they are back home, tell them:
- The 2015 FAST Act temporarily stabilized federal highway and transit investment, but that window is closing soon;
- If states follow past practices, some could begin scaling back planned projects in 2019 due to the uncertainty caused by the next HTF revenue shortfall projected to begin in October 2020;
- States, on average, rely on federal highway funds to support more than half of their capital spending on highways and bridges;
- Any HTF revenue solution should be permanent, user-based, and sufficient to support increased federal surface transportation investments.
If you have questions or need assistance in securing a meeting with your representative or senator during the August recess, please contact ARTBA Senior Vice President for Congressional Relations Dean Franks at firstname.lastname@example.org.