Lankford: Highway bill should focus on long-term solutions

Rep. James Lankford, Oklahoma

Rep. James Lankford, Oklahoma

Washington—Representative James Lankford (R-Okla.) yesterday voted in opposition to H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, which would extend federal surface transportation programs and keep the Highway Trust Fund fiscally solvent through May 2015. Despite Lankford’s “no” vote, the bill received sufficient support to pass the House by a margin of 367-55.

“Unfortunately, the latest highway bill maintains the status quo of complicated budget gimmicks to pay for federal highway projects,” said Lankford. “Highway construction is vital for our nation, and it is imperative that we solve the funding issues, not just prolong them. After two years of work, the House failed to accept any reforms to the federal highway system, greater efficiency or locally driven innovations.

“Two years ago, I was honored to serve on the conference committee for the highway bill. Months of bipartisan, bicameral work yielded a bill free of earmarks with the first step toward much needed reforms. But two years later, the second step was not pursued to continue highway funding reform.

JamesLankford4“I applaud my colleagues’ work to bring a bill to the House Floor before state departments of transportation are forced to significantly ramp down their schedule of construction projects. But in the end I could not support a status quo bill with no funding reforms. We should utilize these short-term extensions as opportunities to implement small reforms that can increase efficiency and reduce costs, such as piloting programs that free states from the burdensome strings attached to federally controlled Highway Trust Fund dollars.

“I will continue to push for state-based solutions to redirect tax dollars from Washington’s control in the Highway Trust Fund to state control. Oklahomans constantly remind me that we must work toward reforms and spending cuts in all areas of government to get our national debt and deficit under control while still funding critical highway and infrastructure projects,” concluded Lankford.