WASHINGTON - Maryland Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced H.R. 688, the Department of Transportation Bonding Assistance Authority Act. This bill will expand a program created in the SAFETEA-LU transportation authorization intended to encourage participation in government contracting by businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals such as ethnic minorities, veterans, and women.
“Disadvantaged businesses are already faced with obstacles and trials in almost every of aspect of their work,” Congressman Cummings said. “This legislation will help remove some of those obstacles, create jobs, and allow us to move closer to the nation of equality that all Americans seek. It will enable disadvantaged businesses to receive bonding assistance, creating a clearer path for them to compete on an equal playing field with other companies, and to bid on federally supported transportation projects.”
Lack of access to bonding is one of the largest hurdles that disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) face as they contemplate bidding on federally supported transportation projects. Particularly in the current economic climate, many DBEs are unable to obtain bid, performance, and other types of bonds due to limited capital availability.
The Cummings legislation would expand the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) authority to guarantee bonds issued to DBEs and authorize the appropriation of up to $50 million per year to fund the program. Additionally, the bill would enable up to five state programs with the proven ability to manage bond assistance programs to receive federal funding to support these programs.
“I was proud to sponsor a provision included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to enable the USDOT to provide bonding assistance,” Congressman Cummings said. “I would be particularly happy to see a robust permanent program created and given a chance to reach an even larger number of businesses. This effort is essential to supporting the growth of small businesses in the transportation industry and I urge Congress to consider this measure.”