News Releases

The Bush Administration’s sudden realization that the Highway Trust Fund has gone broke is no surprise to Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Senator Patty Murray.  Murray and her Democratic colleagues have been sounding the alarm about the dwindling Highway Trust Fund while Senate Republicans and the Bush Administration have blocked their efforts to provide a fix at every turn.  At a time when America’s economy is hurting and our transportation infrastructure is crumbling, the President actually threatened to veto efforts to shore up the Fund which pays for highway projects across the country.

And even after last week’s announcement by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters that the Highway Trust Fund will be bankrupt by NEXT WEEK, Republicans AGAIN blocked Democratic attempts to shore up the fund.

A look at Senate efforts to fix the Highway Trust Fund and the Republicans response:

A History of Democratic Attempts to Fix Highway Trust Fund and Republican Obstruction

February 8, 2007 – Murray Raises Trust Fund Concerns with Transportation Secretary Mary Peters

ALARM BELL – At the first Senate Hearing with Transportation Secretary Mary Peters on the Bush FY 2008 Transportation Budget, Murray asked for the Administration’s plan to shore up a dwindling Highway Trust Fund.

SNOOZE – Secretary Peters concedes that under the Administration's budget, the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will be operating in a deficit in coming years

April 3rd, 2008 – Murray Holds Hearing on Imminent Problem

ALARM BELL – Murray examines the financial health of the Highway Trust Fund with surface transportation experts during a hearing of her Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. View transcript of hearing.

SNOOZE – Bush Administration offers unrealistic and irresponsible solutions to fix Highway Trust Fund including cutting highway funding by $1.8 billion next year and proposing to borrow roughly $3.2 billion from the Department of Transportation’s transit account at a time when mass transit use was beginning to spike to historic highs.

June 23rd, 2008 – Democrats Propose Fix on Senate Floor

ALARM BELL - Democrats ask for Unanimous Consent on plan to fix the Highway Trust Fund by returning $8 billion from the Department of Transportation general fund to the Trust Fund.  The funds were transferred out of the Trust Fund to the General Fund in 1998.

SNOOZE – Republican Senate Minority Whip, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) objects to the Unanimous Consent request, effectively killing the Democrats attempt to provide this critical funding. 

July 9th, 2008 – Murray Includes Fix in Transportation Appropriations Bill

ALARM BELL – Senator Murray includes the Highway Trust Fund fix in her 2009 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill. Murray calls the situation “dire” during committee hearing on the bill.

SNOOZE – Bush Administration threatens to veto any bill that includes fix.  Read veto threat.

July 30th, 2008 – Jobs, Energy, Families and Disaster Relief Act

ALARM BELL - Democrats include Highway Trust Fund Fix in Senate legislation to extend critical tax cuts.

SNOOZE – 42 Republicans vote to block consideration of the bill.  Vote

July 30th, 2008 – Second Stimulus Supplemental Appropriations Bill 

ALARM BELL – Democrats include highway Trust fund fix in proposed Second Stimulus Appropriations Bill.

SNOOZE – Bush Administration threatens to veto any bill that includes fix.  Read veto threat.

September 5, 2008 –ADMINISTRATION FINALLY WAKES UP 

On Friday, the Bush Administration admitted that the Highway Trust Fund has not just gone broke, but that the federal account used to help fund highway and bridge projects will run out of money NEXT WEEK.  As a result, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters says the DOT will delay or reduce payments to states for infrastructure projects that the federal government is financing.

Now the Administration has abandoned its veto threat and endorsed the Democrats’ legislative fix, asking Congress to get it to the President’s desk by next week.  Read Senator Murray’s reaction to Administration’s admission.

September 8, 2008 –REPUBLICAN SENATORS STILL ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL 

Republican Senators object to Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attempt to immediately bring up and pass legislation to shore up the Trust Fund by infusing it with the same $8 billion that was transferred out of the Fund and into the general fund in 1998.