As the Senate works to develop a surface transportation reauthorization package before the latest
extension of the highway bill expires on July 31st, we, the undersigned organizations, support passage of a
robust, long-term bill that provides certainty for the nation’s future transportation needs. We also strongly
oppose “devolution” proposals such as the “Transportation Empowerment Act” (TEA), recently
introduced in the Senate (S. 1541) and House of Representatives (H.R. 2716). Devolution is an illconceived
proposal that would strip away most federal funding for surface transportation projects,
essentially eliminating the federal government’s constitutionally mandated role in promoting interstate
commerce. Accordingly, we urge you to oppose any amendment that would incorporate devolution as an
alternative to adequately funding our next highway bill.
As introduced last Congress, and soundly defeated by the Senate on July 29, 2014, TEA would reduce
funding for the federal-aid highway program by more than 80 percent by 2019, from $45 billion to less
than $8 billion, with no consideration of the impact on state and local governments or private industry. It
also proposes the eradication of the federal transit program, taking more than $8 billion from state and
local public transportation agencies, which rely on federal funds for more than 43 percent of their capital
spending. TEA doesn’t “empower” states; it saddles them with 90 percent of the fiscal responsibility for
supporting highways that, under the Constitution, the federal government is obligated to help maintain. It
would also have a devastating impact on public transportation systems that help to alleviate highway
congestion, reduce emissions, and provide critical transportation options to underserved populations.
Devolution represents abandonment by Congress of a most fundamental constitutional obligation to
promote interstate commerce, and would prove disastrous to state and local governments’ ability to
maintain, improve and coordinate their transportation systems when it is widely acknowledged that
current resources are already seriously insufficient. This is particularly true for those states with lesser
populations, more rural landscapes, and an extensive highway network that supports a large share of
interstate traffic. Furthermore, devolution could weaken our nation’s ability to quickly respond to foreign
and domestic defense, emergency, and security needs. As President Eisenhower said at the dawn of the
Interstate era, a modern network of roads is “as necessary to defense as it is to our national economy and
Devolution proposals are not a solution to the long-term infrastructure funding question, but rather serve
as a distraction from the debate about how best to fully fund our nation’s infrastructure. We, therefore,
urge you to oppose devolution of the surface transportation program and any similarly misguided funding
proposals as you work to pass a surface transportation reauthorization package.
Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference
Alabama Trucking Association, Inc.
Alaska Trucking Association, Inc.
Alliance for Toll Free Interstates
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
American Bus Association
American Concrete Pavement Association