Mineta warns against increases to highway bill

| 5/6/2005

In a statement issued May 5, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta warned the U.S. Senate about the dangers of adding too much to the highway bill, which is scheduled to go before the full Senate the week of May 9.

The current version of the bill calls for $284 billion to be spent on transportation issues over the next six years. The president has already threatened to veto any increases to that amount, and in his statement, Mineta backed his boss up.

“Offering American taxpayers an artificially inflated, six-year highway, transit and safety authorization bill means promising to spend money that doesn’t exist,” he said. “If the Congress chooses to irresponsibly add billions to the cost of the bill, it is setting itself up to raise gas taxes or risk bankrupting the Highway Trust Fund in the very near future. Neither option is acceptable.”

One potential addition to the Senate’s highway bill that wouldn’t cost billions is mandatory fuel surcharge legislation.

The surcharge was already included in the House version of the bill, HR 3, section 4139, but has yet to be added to the Senate version of the bill.

The language in the House bill at Section 4139 requires all motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders running truckload freight to implement fuel surcharges and pass on 100 percent of those charges to the person who actually pays for the fuel.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is urging truckers to fax and call – letters may not arrive quick enough – their U.S. senators and urge them to include the same fuel surcharge language in the Senate’s version of the bill.

If truckers are uncertain who their senators are, they can contact OOIDA’s Membership Department, and they will look up the information. The toll-free OOIDA number is 1-800-444-5791.

Truckers can also call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, give the operator their ZIP code and be directly connected to their senator’s office.