(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Transportation admitted that the primary means of funding highway construction and repair – the Highway Trust Fund – has gone broke, and that it reached this point far sooner than Administration officials expected.

Senator Murray, who chairs the Transportation and Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, has been sounding the alarm about the Highway Trust Fund for more than two years.  This year, she helped draw up a legislative solution, which would restore to the trust fund more than $8 billion that was taken out of it at the end of 1998.  The House has passed a similar measure by a 10 to 1 margin, but Republicans in the Senate have blocked the solution repeatedly.

Today, after opposing it for months, the Bush Administration finally abandoned its veto threat and endorsed the legislative fix, asking Congress to get it to the President’s desk by next week. 

“The Highway Trust Fund is now bankrupt.  It’s too bad that it has taken an emergency to force the Administration to pull its head out of the sand and appreciate how serious this problem is. 

“If we don’t pass a solution fast, we’ll be forced to cancel critical highway construction and repair projects that ensure our roads and bridges are safe and secure. 

“This crisis could lead to millions of construction layoffs across this country at a time when the unemployment rate is already the highest it has been in nearly five years.

“We have brought legislation to the Senate floor multiple times to help resolve this crisis, yet Republicans have repeatedly blocked our efforts.  Now that the Administration is on board, it is critical that my Republican colleagues stop denying that we face a crisis in this country and help us pass a solution.”