I am sorry to report that DOT will furlough nearly 2,000 employees without pay Monday.
This means DOT must temporarily shut down highway reimbursements to states worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This means we must temporarily shut down national anti-drunk driving efforts. And this means we must shut down construction projects across the country--maybe in your state or your county--because federal inspectors won't be able to do their jobs.
And when those projects shut down, and the states don't get their highway reimbursements, what will happen then? Layoffs of construction workers in a country that can ill afford such losses.
You might be surprised by how we came to this: Because one Senator blocked the extension of the Highway Trust Fund. And not just the Highway Trust Fund extension. Other provisions in the same legislation would have covered tax credits for health coverage and unemployment insurance for 400,000 people.
400,000 people, already jobless, now cut off from their only lifeline.
Now, the Highway Trust Fund reaches much further than its name indicates. It supports all of America's surface transportation--highways, bridges, transit, safety inspections, and our efforts to promote seat belt use and to fight impaired and distracted driving.
This doesn't mean we'll just have to pull a few PSAs from evening television programs. It means federal inspectors will be removed from critical construction projects, forcing transportation work on federal lands to halt abruptly.
These are important projects. And the workers will be sent home from their job sites.
In addition to the dismay of these American workers, we must add the disruption of key safety programs. Programs like "Drunk Driving: over the limit, under arrest" campaign, our current work against distracted driving, and our work promoting child passenger safety and motorcycle safety.
These are programs that work to change driving practices that kill 37,000 Americans every year.
And consumers whose good are held hostage by rogue moving companies can receive no assistance from DOT during this furlough.
Now, to all of our great employees at the Department of Transportation, I very much regret the hardship that this will cause you and your families. Please be sure to report for work Monday morning as you normally would unless given specific alternate instructions.
DOT employees may find more information about the furloughs and when they will be able to return to work at www.dot.gov, or you can call the following agency-specific telephone numbers:
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) (866) 499-3637
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) (800) 382-9067
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (866) 841-1496
- Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) (202) 366-0401
Please stay tuned for further information.