Bloomberg interviews Jim Burnley on collapse of transportation funding bills in Congress

2 min

Venable partner and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Jim Burnley was interviewed in an August 2, 2013 Bloomberg article on the recent collapse of transportation funding bills in both houses of Congress. Last week, Senate Republicans blocked a $54 billion bill providing funds for highways, aviation, passenger rail and other transportation projects because it exceeded spending limits agreed to by both parties. House leaders called off a vote on a $44 billion bill due to a lack of support.

Without the funding provided in the bills, some federal agencies may have to continue operating under the forced spending cuts brought on by sequestration earlier this year. According to Burnley, “Nothing in current law prevents the administration from reimposing furloughs after September or again seeking to shut some control towers at small and midsized airports.” Funding for Amtrak was also included in the bills, however, Burnley said, “Amtrak can keep running under the status quo while being constrained in spending on maintenance, capital investment and equipment.”

Burnley also pointed out that highway programs were generally exempt from budget cuts brought on by sequestration, but there could be pressure on lawmakers to change that down the road. “People might say, ‘Why should they get a free pass?’” Burnley said. He added that companies and state governments who benefit from highway and transit funding “may have a debate on their hands.”