WASHINGTON—The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has launched a new campaign, “Let's Get America Working,” to promote a bipartisan effort in Congress to create American jobs by investing in the nation's infrastructure.
Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa announced the program at a news conference in Washington Sept. 9. Joining Hoffa at the news conference were Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and former Mississippi Governor and Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour.
“Working on transportation, energy and water projects will put thousands to work in construction jobs across the country,” Hoffa said in his remarks. “It will also improve roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure, which in turn will help business and improve the U.S. economy.”
Since 2008, Congress has transferred more than $62 billion from the general fund to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent, Hoffa noted. Meanwhile, Congress hasn't passed a highway bill of longer than two years for more than a decade, he said.
“The transportation system continues to crumble, and the safety of those who work and travel along the vast network of U.S. roads and rails is being jeopardized,” Hoffa said. “If elected representatives from both parties want to rebuild the trust between government and workers, they need to reinvest in the people that make this country great.”
The U.S. is now on its 34th short-term transportation funding extension, according to Foxx.
“It's gotten to a point where I feel like an auctioneer,” he said. “Except instead of saying going once, going twice, I am now saying, going 33, going 34.
“And as much as the American people want a better transportation system, they know the political system is failing them,” Foxx said. “It is not delivering them the benefits they need and want today.”
The U.S. surface transportation system will soon be a drag on the national economy if something is not done quickly to fund transportation projects, according to Foxx.
“So as Congress returns to work this week after a long summer recess, I urge them to look at the needs of their constituents,” he said. “Businesses want their freight moving faster. Families don't want to be stuck on their way to school or work.”
The current stopgap transportation measure, passed in July, ends Oct. 29. The Senate passed a six-year transportation bill before going into August recess. But, as the Tire Industry Association noted, the House of Representatives is reluctant to consider that bill because it is only partially funded.
“It remains to be seen whether, amongst the many other high-profile and partisan issues it will be facing, Congress will be able to come together on a long-term highway plan or whether another short-term patch will be in the works,” said TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield in the Sept. 8 issue of TIA's Weekly Legislative Update.