Shuster prepared to meet challenge of long-term transportation bill

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, recently said Congress must focus on passing bipartisan legislation to provide long-term funding for repairing and rebuilding the nation’s aging infrastructure.

This includes the obsolete and outdated network of highways, overpasses and bridges across the country that are beginning to lead to higher transportation costs for many products and services.

“Time is money,” Shuster told the Ripon Forum. “Whether we’re talking about the commuter that’s stuck in traffic or a truckload of goods that’s forced to reroute around a bridge that’s no longer performing to standard. Congestion costs us over $120 billion dollars and nearly 3 billion gallons of wasted fuel. Ten percent of a product’s total cost can be attributed to transportation, so when the system is inefficient, we all pay more for the goods we rely on every day.”

Shuster acknowledged that funding is a critical part of the process.

“Addressing the funding challenges facing the Highway Trust Fund in some way is something that Congress must focus on,” he said. “Over the decades, the user fee concept has generally worked well for our surface transportation system. As we continue to consider the future of our surface transportation system, any option or potential change poses significant challenges, but I believe that we can ensure that we have a practicable, equitable user fee model well into the future.”

The funding options being considered range from  fuel taxes to tolls to overall tax reform.

“Tax reform options continue to be discussed in the media and by others,” Shuster added. “Once Congress has any specific proposals, we will take a closer look at them. We are working to identify a funding solution that will enable us to do a long-term reauthorization bill that will help reduce the amount of time the American people spend sitting in traffic and improve the flow of commerce across the country.”

Irrespective of how it will be funded, the eight-term lawmaker understands the importance of Democrats and Republicans working together to see the challenge through to completion.

“I’m confident we can reach an agreement on a long-term bill,” Shuster said. “I strongly believe that infrastructure continues to be an issue where we can find common ground. That has not changed over the years, and I don’t intend that to change while I am chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.”