Inhofe Warns Thousands of Oklahoma Jobs at Stake

Says Saving Jobs Should be Priority One for Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today warned that up to an estimated 1350 Oklahoma jobs are at stake as well as $40 million in projects if Congress fails to act on the highway rescission issue by the end of the fiscal year -- Wednesday, September 30, 2009. Senator Inhofe urged Congress to make passage of a highway extension with a rescission fix the number one priority when they return on Tuesday. If Congress fails to act, States could be forced to cancel or delay $400-600 million of projects, which will cost the nation thousands of jobs.  

“Failure of Congress to immediately address the rescission will cost thousands of American jobs and delay or even cancel planned and ongoing road projects across the nation,” Senator Inhofe said. “In my home state of Oklahoma alone, we stand to lose up to an estimated 1,350 Oklahoma jobs and $40 million in projects if Congress fails to act. I am concerned that this failure would unnecessarily punish cash-strapped state DOTs.  This is detrimental to every state and the entire highway program, and needs to be resolved immediately.”  

“As Congress returns tomorrow, I will be working to ensure saving these hundreds of thousands of jobs is priority one. If we are going to make a full economic recovery, the last thing Congress should be doing is engaging in more politics as usual that would lead to additional jobs lost. It’s time for Washington to get its act together and pass a long-term highway extension with a rescission fix.”  

“With the billions of dollars pouring out of Washington these days, it’s outrageous that we continue to face transportation shortfalls. I have said repeatedly that transportation infrastructure is one of the best forms of stimulus spending that the government has at its disposal. The economic benefits from transportation investment include both the immediate job creation from construction in addition to the long-term economic benefits associated with the completed project. It’s time for Congress to get our priorities straight and invest in areas that will ensure long-term economic growth. Once again, I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reach a solution to the immediate problem while also finding a long term solution in the next highway reauthorization bill.”  

Background:

On September 30, 2009 the highway program is set to expire. Congress is currently debating an extension of the program, but the rescission is looking like it could be left out.  Back in July, as Congress debated providing a short-term fix for the Highway Trust Fund shortfall, Senator Inhofe supported inclusion of an amendment to fix the rescission. Unfortunately, it was defeated. Now, as Congress sets to extend the highway program, there are three bills working their way through the legislative process that include extensions of the highway and transit programs.  The Senate is working on an 18-month extension that will prevent the rescission from taking state highway money.  The House passed a 3 month extension that does not correct the rescission, and, thus, will take highway money from states.  If neither of these bills are signed by the President before this Wednesday, a provision on the continuing resolution, the legislation that continues government spending in the absence of completed appropriations bills, will take effect and extend highway and transit programs for 1 month and will not correct the rescission.