Millions of unspent transportation dollars could be returned to the federal government, under a proposal from U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.

The Wisconsin Democrat is offering an amendment to an aviation bill in the Senate that would reclaim money that was set aside for transportation projects that haven’t moved in years. Feingold says the plan could help return at least $626 million to help pay off the national debt.

The proposal would target transportation earmarks no less than ten years old, where at least 90-percent of the funding remains. Feingold says it makes no sense to leave that money sitting around where it isn’t helping anyone get back to work.

The measure does allow the Secretary of Transportation to protect funding for a project that could still get underway with a year.

The amendment is based on a larger proposal from Feingold that would go after any federal earmark that has been untouched for a decade or more. He says the overall effort could return billions of taxpayer dollars.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:04)

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