May 17,2005

Baucus Applauds Passage of Highway Bill

Bill Will Provide $295 Billion for Nation’s Infrastructure

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Today, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Safe, Accountable,Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 (SAFETEA) by an 89 to 11 vote. Thecurrent transportation program is operating under a sixth extension and is set to expire at the endof this month.

“Americans’ windshield time needs to be as safe as possible. Financing our nation’stransportation program makes our roads safer, makes our economy more efficient, andstrengthens our ability to compete as a nation,” Baucus said. “This legislation has overcomemany obstacles. The Senate’s vote is a strong endorsement of the bill.”Last week, Baucus, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee joined ChairmanCharles Grassley (R-IA) to offer an amendment bringing an additional $7.8 billion to theHighway Trust Fund, increasing the funding level by an additional $11.2 billion. The new trustfund receipts made it possible to increase these investment levels.The extra funding in the Senate bill will sustain millions of jobs and provide a boost thenation’s economy.

“This bill is more than just a highway bill – it is a jobs bill,” Baucus emphad. “Thehighway bill that came out of the House was not adequately funded. Highway and transitspending creates thousands of jobs and provides valuable opportunities in communitiesstruggling economically. The last transportation bill help sustain 11,000 good-paying jobs in myhome state of Montana, and I am confident the bill we passed today will have the same positiveeffect in Montana as well as across the nation.”

Baucus, a likely member of the joint House/Senate conference committee, also urgedPresident Bush to back away from any veto threats. Baucus noted the additional funding in thelegislation is paid for and will not increase the deficit. The funds were also raised withoutraising taxes on honest taxpayers, he said.

“Fiscal responsibility is of the utmost importance during these times of record deficits,”Baucus said. “It was important to me that this additional funding was paid for. This bill willgrow the pot of money available for transportation without raising a dime in new taxes or drivingthe country further into the red.”

To raise funds for the cost of the amendment, Baucus included provisions to shut downabusive tax shelters and close tax loopholes used by dishonest taxpayers.

“Closing these abusive tax transactions will generate more funds to build better highwaysand make our nation’s infrastructure safer,” Baucus said. “It is not fair that some get out of theirtax obligation and leave other honest taxpayers to pick up the bill.”

Since the bill has passed both the House of Representative and the Senate, it will go to aconference committee where differences between the two versions will be reconciled beforebeing sent on to the President.