Congress Must Avoid Another Manufactured Crisis And Extend The Highway Trust Fund

Unless Congress acts to extend the Highway Trust Fund before the August recess, we will be facing not a government shutdown but a construction shutdown that threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs.

As we have written before, the Highway Trust Fund provides the overwhelming majority of transportation funding to fix roads, bridges, and railroads. It’s income is generated from a federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel. Why is it running out? It’s been 20 years since that tax has been increased, and a combination of inflation, better fuel efficiency, and reduced driving have substantially reduced the amount the gas tax brings into the HTF and has threatened its solvency as a result. The Department of Labor has estimated that the fund will be depleted this fall.

Here is what’s at stake: if Congress doesn’t make a fix, more than 1,000 construction projects would be at risk. States would have to scale back their plans to improve transportation, and would lack the certainty of federal transportation funding to be able to plan for the future. Over a hundred thousand roadway projects and 5,600 railway projects could see delays. And above all else, because of this nearly 700,000 jobs would be at risk.

Those are most drastic implications and necessitate immediate action. And now is an especially bad time to cause another manufactured economic crisis. As we found out in last week’s jobs report, our economy is picking up steam that we simply cannot put in jeopardy.

But Congress should do more than just prevent this crisis — it should invest long-term in American infrastructure for a 21st century economy. That would mean taking serious action to address the fact that the American Society of Civil Engineers graded the nation’s infrastructure a ‘D+’. It would mean we could get to work fixing the nearly 8,000 bridges in this country that could collapse at any moment. It would mean investing in 21st-century programs like faster broadband and high-speed rail.

There is a solution out there already: President Obama’s budget calls for a $302 billion investment in infrastructure, a large portion of which would come from closing tax loopholes that benefit special interests. But absent that, we need more than just the temporary, short-term fixes currently being considered. We’ve seen what it is like to ricochet from crisis to crisis: it’s not good for American families, and it’s not good for our economy.

BOTTOM LINE: Sen. Patty Murray, in a speech on the Senate floor, sums it up appropriately: “Families can’t afford to have a few members of Congress putting jobs at risk once again,” she said. “And with the clock winding down, we can’t afford to put this off any longer.” Let’s extend the Highway Trust Fund, invest in our nation’s infrastructure, and keep America working.

L.A. controller says he won’t pay

L.A. controller says he won’t pay millions owed to DWP groups

Los Angeles Times | July 9, 2014 | 11:15 AM

Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin announced today that he will refuse to pay nearly $4 million that the city owes two controversial nonprofits affiliated with the Department of Water and Power, saying he can’t write the checks in “good conscience” because the groups have refused to show what they’ve done with more than $40 million in previous payments.

“As the city controller, I have a duty to protect the public’s money and to ensure that city funds are spent appropriately,” Galperin wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

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Julián Castro Confirmed by the Senate as the Next HUD Secretary

This afternoon, the Senate overwhelmingly approved San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to be the next Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The vote was 71-26.


States Lead on Minimum Wage. Is Congress Listening?

Congress is back in session this week, and if members have been listening to their constituents, they will move quickly to raise the federal minimum wage, which has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power since the 1980s. But absent action from Capitol Hill, states are taking up the slack.


Here’s What You Missed: Fourth of July at the White House

It was a busy Fourth of July at the White House. The President began the day by speaking at a naturalization ceremony for active-duty service members and civilians. Later, he and the First Lady hosted military heroes and their families to the White House for a special Independence Day event, including a USO program featuring Grammy award-winning recording artist Pitbull. And it all culminated with a spectacular fireworks display on the National Mall.


2014 Gun Sense Voter Federal Candidate Qs …

This questionnaire is the first step toward figuring out who we’re going to support during the 2014 election as part of our Gun Sense Voter mobilization effort.

Unlike the NRA, we’re making our questionnaire available to the public. And we’re asking supporters like you to take the questionnaire yourself so you know just how easy it is for candidates to make their positions clear.

Here’s a sample of what we’re asking our leaders to tell us before the August 15 deadline:

  • Do you support requiring background checks for all gun sales?
  • Do you support prohibiting people from having guns after they are convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes?
  • Do you support a law that would close the ‘terror gap’ and block people listed on the federal government’s terror watch lists from buying guns?


These laws — and all of the laws we ask about in our Gun Sense Voter Questionnaire — would reduce gun violence and save lives.

Click here to take the questionnaire and see what we’re asking:

Thanks for helping out on this,

Richard Martinez