The Free Press
Once again Congress seems unable to pass legislation that not only makes common sense but also has a degree of bipartisan support.
The Senate has passed, by a strong bipartisan 74-22 vote, a two-year $109 billion transportation funding bill that pays for itself. The House Republican majority cannot seem to agree with its leader Speaker John Boehner on their version of the bill.
Recently, Democratic members of the House have introduced the Senate bill for passage but leading House Republicans say it is not likely to get a vote.
The House had been proposing a five-year $260 billion plan, but that did not sit well with all the majority’s members. Some objected to the cost, others to the cuts to public transportation funding. So, according to the news organization thehill.com, Republican House leaders will pass a temporary bill to avert the March 31 deadline, when transportation funding runs out.
That’s likely to set up another “emergency” showdown, as Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will not agree to move a short-term bill in the Senate. A short-term bill would be the ninth one since 2009 when the last highway bill funding expired, according to thehill.com.
Boehner has apparently pushed his own version that would use revenues from increased oil and gas drilling to help pay for transportation projects. But he has not been able to win support of his own caucus for that measure.
Infrastructure, highway and transit funding has long enjoyed bipartisan support. Everyone knows the federal government has as one of its basic duties the maintenance of the country’s roads, bridges and mass transit systems.
These system are key to business being able to move good to markets, for commuters to get to work in a timely manner and often result in at the very least short-term construction jobs.
So the House’s inability to come to some kind of proposal, even one that can be reconciled with the Senate, is disappointing.
Let’s hope Congress can resolve this issue quickly and get a Surface Transportation Bill to the president’s desk as soon as possible.