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Manufacturers Want Early Transport Bill
Thursday, 25 June 2009 00:00

Factory sector lobbying giant ties high-wage jobs to health of freight sector

Getting a new multi-year, federal transportation spending program approved by Congress quickly is a key to the health of the factory sector, says the head of the National Association of Manufacturers.

“Transportation is more than just mobility for people and goods—it’s also about high wage manufacturing jobs,” said NAM President John Engler, as he urged lawmakers to speedily pass new legislation to replace the program that expires Sept. 30.

He issued the remarks following approval June 24 by a House subcommittee of the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009.

Engler said those factory jobs depend on a healthy freight shipment system to bring in raw materials and distribute goods or equipment through the supply chain.

“Transportation is the circulatory system of the nation’s economy,” Engler said. “We must keep it in excellent health.”

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., has said he will push for congressional approval of the big new spending bill by the time it expires, and will oppose extending the current spending program to give lawmakers more time to craft its replacement.

Engler said that “while the timeline may be ambitious to accomplish before the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, this undertaking… should not face needless delays.”

He also stressed that “the legislation recognizes the need for a robust surface transportation program that is focused on critical national objectives and attempts to prevent further deteriorating conditions on our nation’s aging highways, bridges, roads, and transit systems.”

The pending bill, Engler said, “deals effectively” both with reauthorizing the various surface transportation programs and shoring up the faltering Highway Trust Fund.

The Journal of Commerce Online, 6/25/2009