pothole.jpgU.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer visited San Francisco Thursday to encourage the passage of a bill to rebuild the nation’s highways and roads and criticized what she said was obstructionism from Republicans in Congress.

Boxer, one of California’s two senators, held a news conference at the Ferry Building this afternoon to discuss Senate Bill 1813, otherwise known as Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

The two-year bill would focus resources on preserving and improving the condition of highways and bridges around the country by renewing highway taxes at their current levels.

Authorization of the Highway Trust Fund, which receives those tax revenues, expires on March 31 if Congress does not take action before then.

“Our infrastructure is crumbling,” she said, adding that the bill is estimated to create or save more than 1.8 million jobs in each of the next two years.

However, Boxer said Republicans have “bogged down the bill with unrelated amendments,” including ones on topics like birth control and the current conflict in Egypt.
She said Republicans have gotten increasingly extreme in their positions on various issues in recent years.

“The Democratic Party, we have a big tent,” she said. “Republicans right now … they have kind of half an umbrella … if you try to move a little, you get soaking wet.”

Boxer also addressed rising gas prices–she said the average price per gallon in California is $4.04 — by calling for various solutions including releasing oil supplies from the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve, investigating fraud and manipulation in the oil futures markets, and increasing support of hybrid and electric vehicles.

“People do love their cars, and I understand that,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to have this breakthrough. Cars do not have to be gas-guzzlers, they can be quite efficient.”

Boxer said she will return to Washington on Monday to resume her duties in the Senate.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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