Federal Eye: Eye Opener: Congressional delay forces DOT furloughs

Happy Monday! Federal funding for major road construction projects and national anti-drunk driving campaigns dried up Sunday night amid
Congressional gridlock.

Lawmakers failed to reach agreement last week on tax credits, unemployment insurance for roughly 400,000 Americans and a short-term
extension of the Highway Trust Fund. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that he expects Republicans to along with a vote this week to pass the $10 billion package despite objections from Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), who objected and delayed the bill.

“Senator Bunning supports this bill,” his spokesman Mike Reynard told The Post on Saturday. “He believes it is essential that it should pass. But the bill must be
paid for. If we can’t find $10 billion to pay for something that all
100 senators support, we will never pay for anything.”

Bunning’s objections mean the Transportation Department must furlough roughly 2,000 starting today at the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

“I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country,” Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood
said in a statement late Sunday night. “This means that construction
workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors
must be furloughed.”

Construction will stop on the $50 million 9th Street Bridge replacement project in the District and the $36 million Humpback Bridge
replacement on Northern Virginia’s George Washington Parkway because
federal inspectors cannot report for work. NHTSA employees working with
advocacy groups on safe driving programs including the “Click it or Ticket” and anti-texting campaigns
will have to stay home. (The furlough doesn’t impact NHTSA employees
working on the recent Toyota safety recalls and investigations are not
impacted, DOT said.)

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Keith Moore

Ed, I wonder if we can use this 10 Billion dollars and begin to ask with an expectation to receive answers how many small and minority owned firms will win contracts on these projects.

Now that is a News story in the wake of the following Economy Watch by Frank Aherns:

On Tuesday, the Conference Board reported that February’s consumer confidence fell sharply from January, driven down by the survey’s “present situation index”-how confidence consumers feel right now-which hit its lowest mark since the 1983 recession. On Thursday, the government’s report on new jobless claims filed during the previous week shot up 22,000 which was exactly opposite of what economists predicted.

Open Government Directive should pave the way for new questions like this to be answered more easily. And with statistics of poor economic confidence like this, these questions should be appreciated. Your Thoughts?