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Transportation Secretary Foxx Pushes Spending Plan Despite Long Political Odds

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A bill that keeps current spending intact might be a tough sell in Congress, but it's the better option, says Foxx.
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A bill that keeps current spending intact might be a tough sell in Congress, but it's the better option, says Foxx.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx says he will continue to push the Obama administration's plan to fund roads and commuter rail despite what may be long odds in a divided Congress.

Secretary Foxx spoke at a forum in downtown Washington not long after a bill to fund transportation at current levels for six years made it out of a Senate committee. He called that "progress."

"It's a big deal to just move the ball down the field, but this is also an issue that involves at least three other committees in the Senate and we haven't even started talking about the House," Foxx said.

Foxx naturally prefers the administration's four-year, $302 billion plan—funded through corporate tax reform. He says that's a wiser approach than, say, trying to raise the federal gas tax, even though it hasn't been increased since 1993. Asked if his proposal will survive Congress, Foxx said, "I cannot put odds on it, and I won't put odds on it, but I would not put odds on a lot of things in my life."

The administration's plan is not the long-term solution to transportation funding that groups from across the political spectrum have been calling for. But the secretary says there is simply little to no support for higher gas taxes or other fees.

"There is a political will that has to be there in order to advance that conversation," Foxx said.

The current two-year transportation spending measure expires in September, and the federal highway trust fund is headed toward insolvency this summer.

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