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House Republicans still can't get a
transportation bill approved
For a brief moment it appeared that the passage of the two-year Senate transportation bill on a bipartisan vote Wednesday would finally spur the House to take action itself. If nothing else, it would put aside its own contentious five-year bill and take action on the Senate bill instead to meet the April 1 deadline. But nothing—not common-sense, not the Senate bill, not the deadline—has pushed enough representatives to agree.

Consequently, according to staffers, there will be no House vote on a new bill this month. Instead, the House will extend current spending for the ninth time since the 2005 transportation bill expired in 2009. No obstacles have appeared so far to an extension:

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) hasn’t decided how long the stopgap should be and aides predicted it wouldn’t have any problems passing the chamber, even though it would extend both programs and the current 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax.
After another two-week vacation that begins March 30, the House will return to, presumably, take up where it left off on the transportation bill. About the only good thing that can be said about that five-year, $260 billion House proposal is that it hasn't passed. Because it stinks. It's 21 percent less than the 2005 bill when adjusted for inflation, and that's just the beginning of its many problems. It would weaken environmental reviews of road and other transportation projects, open up protected lands on- and off-shore to oil and gas production and use the royalty revenue for road and bridge building (even though that revenue would be a long time coming and seriously inadequate) and end dedicated funding for pedestrian and bike friendly projects, among other things.

The problem for Republicans is that Speaker John Boehner can't corral enough of them to support a bill that they think it isn't yet destructive enough. They want to spend even less money.

The Senate bill is imperfect, to be sure. But the worst of more than two dozen amendments—including authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to exploration and production of oil and gas, as well as undermining Clean Air Act regulation of mercury emissions—were eliminated. And a good one passed: spending most of the penalties paid by BP for its Gulf of Mexico blow-out on remediation in Gulf. The bill also extends the commuter benefit for mass transit riders and funds makes bike and pedestrian projects.

For now, however, a truly far-sighted transportation bill is just a pipedream:

Meanwhile, our major modes of transportation poison us, burn two-thirds of the oil we drill at home and import from abroad, make us less secure because of the geopolitics involved in maintaining access to much of that oil, gobble up a scarce resource essential for making other products, extract large hunks of household income and contribute a third of the CO2 we’re loading into the atmosphere.

Rethinking transportation means rethinking zoning and other aspects of how we build our cities and develop the land in between. It demands a hard look at subsidies that promote particular modes of transportation to the exclusion of others and broadening the definition of what a subsidy is. Rethinking transportation requires rethinking the currently inadequate public revenue streams that pay for most of its infrastructure. And, obviously, it means extricating ourselves from dependence on fossil fuel, not just the imported stuff but what we take out of the ground within our own borders and from beneath the continental shelves.

Someday, perhaps, Congress will wise up.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 07:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's like the Congress before the Civil War... (9+ / 0-)

    literally EVERYTHING they do is to stymie progress.  

  •  One thing I have to fault Obama on (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IllanoyGal, PatriciaVa

    is the lack of a push for more mass transit. Building the infrastructure, like rail lines, would add jobs; more jobs would be created driving the buses and operating the trains; it would help the environment, help state and local budgets by taking cars off overcrowded highways, and reduce the price of gasoline by reducing demand.

    Why a one-way express ticket on Denver's RTD system needs to cost $3.60 is beyond me. It ought to be closer to $0.36.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 08:03:52 AM PDT

    •  The High Speed Rail lines became lighting rods (5+ / 0-)

      against him - they were ended in Florida and Wisconsin, and Governor Christie in New Jersey ended work on mass transit tunnels across the Hudson.  Yes, the money was re-routed to blue states, but mass transit was a huge target.

      I would have loved for more mass transit - I don't know about you but my mass transit to get to work would be 2 1/2 hours now, and probably much less if they could get that northwest rail line to Boulder worked out.  Even at $3.60 that's still less than it costs me to drive each way, and I have a hybrid.  

      I'm hoping with the election concluded and Democrats in House, Senate and White House that we get back to more things like mass transit projects.  The saddest thing is these things take multiple years and usually multiple presidencies to accomplish, and this country, like most companies, can't see beyond the next quarter's earnings report.

      •  The high speed rail aren't really mass transit (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ColoTim, PatriciaVa

        Those are inter-city, not intra-city.

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

        by blue aardvark on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 09:52:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They're projected to be busy enough to remove (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue aardvark, Egalitare

          some of the air traffic, so while it may not be mass local traffic, I would still think they can transit masses of people.

          •  Yeah, I guess when I say "mass transit" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'm thinking intra-city. A cruise ship transports a lot of people from city to city, but it's not mass transit in the vernacular.

            In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

            by blue aardvark on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 10:02:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And then we have issues with what exactly is (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blue aardvark

              intra- vs. inter- city.  Would lines running from New York to Philadelphia or Boston be intra- vs. inter-?  How about Baltimore to DC?  I haven't heard discussion about HSR other than over longer distances than what we typically think of for a local bus / light rail, but HSR will be used around the NE transit corridors (I think there already are some lines in existence, though what exactly constitutes High Speed vs. Express seems to be a fuzzy distinction).  Even local trains would be an improvement over what we have - trains could help get people up and down the Front Range.

              I'll be happy when they get the light rail set up to get people out to the airport and to Boulder from downtown.  They might be able to get that done in time for the Olympics.

        •  From an interesting short diary (0+ / 0-)

          You might want to read the whole thing.


      •  The right wing propaganda and Radio Rwanda (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        were strong against the high speed rail line from Madison to Milwaukee in Wisconsin, and it was used as a campaign prop to get Scott Walker elected. However, once the reality of the lost $810 million funding and jobs, and the fact that some of the money was to be used to upgrade the existing Chicago-Milwaukee segment at no cost to the state sank in, it became a boat anchor around the reactionary Walker and his ALEC oil soaked cronies in the state legislature. The idiot reactionary GOP also threw away the KRM (Kenosha-Milwaukee-Racine) commuter rail that got federal dollars for the initial design phase, and was to be an extension of the excellent Metra commuter rail system in the Chicago suburbs. The fail is legendary there.

        Throw in the $4.00 a gallon gasoline and climbing and the right wing anti transit folks are looking even more idiotic.

        Trickle Down Economics 101: They get the golden parachute, we get the golden shower.

        by NoMoreLies on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 07:22:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Mass Transit is HUGE value-added to.. (0+ / 0-)

      ...any urban environment.

      Funding is the problem.

      Let's do mass transit WITHOUT increasing the tax burden on the working and middle-class.

      And a hike in the gas tax, whether it be at the federal, state or local level, is a working-class tax hike.

      How to fund it?

      The same way we've financed the two years of the Social Security tax cut, equivalent to US$ 210B.

      By Issuing more bonds.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:48:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey Boner......2012 is an ELECTION year.....just (0+ / 0-)

    in case it escaped your mind.

  •  People who don't do their job need (6+ / 0-)

    to be fired.

    Start with the Dufus Brigade:

    Louie Gohmert(TX-01)
    Joe Wilson(SC-02)
    Joe Walsh (IL-08)
    Steve King (IA-05)
    Michele Bachmann(MN-06)
    Tom Graves(GA-09)
    Paul Broun(GA-10)
    John Culberson(TX-07)
    Phil Gingrey(GA-11)
    Clif Stearns(FL-06)
    Frank Guinta(NH-01)
    Charles Bass(NH-02)
    Allen West(FL-22)
    Daniel Webster(FL-08)
    Austin Scott(GA-08)
    Lou Barletta(PA-11)
    Patrick McHenry(NC-10)
    Chip Cravaack(MN-08)
    Thaddeus McCotter(MI-11)
    Sean Duffy(WI-07)
    Eric Cantor(VA-07)
    Jeff Denham(CA-19)
    Steve Womack(AR-03)
    Steve Southerland(FL-02)
    Virginia Foxx(NC-05)
    Joe Heck(NV-03)
    John Campbell(CA-48)
    Andy Harris (MD-01)
    Peter King (NY-03)
    Frank Lobiondo(NJ-02)
    Nan Hayworth (NY-19)
    Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
    Mike Coffman (CO-06)
    Robert Dold (IL-10)
    John Fleming (LA-04)
    Diane Black (TN-06)
    Marsha Blackburn (TN-07)
    Justin Amash (MI-03)
    Robert Hurt (VA-05)
    Jim Jordan (OH-04)
    Jean Schmidt (OH-02)
    Don Young (AK)
    Paul Ryan (WI-01)
    Elton Gallegly (CA-24)
    Collin Peterson (MN-10)
    Renee Elmers (NC-02)
    Timothy Walberg (MI-07)
    Mike Rogers (MI-08)
    Peter Hoekstra (MI-Sen)
    Adrian Smith (NE-03)
    Vern Buchanan (FL-13)
    John Sullivan (OK-01)
    Scott Rigell (VA-02)

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 08:46:42 AM PDT

    •  Jean Schmidt has been fired. (0+ / 0-)

      We're hoping redistricting might help take care of Mike Coffman here in Colorado, but it's still an uphill battle.

      I understand your list, but to that list I'd recommend adding a lot of state Attorneys General and many governors, including those for Wisconsin (soon, soon), Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, New Jersey, Arizona, Texas, Maine and perhaps, New York.

    •  I don't think you have enough Texans on (0+ / 0-)

      there. Add Kay Granger.

      If you do not believe that there is an ongoing war on women, then you aren't paying attention. h/t The Pootie Potentate

      by glorificus on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 09:57:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  well, they have till 9/30 (0+ / 0-)

    Highway Trust Fund goes kaputsky, again, then.

    [insert pithy sigline here]

    by terrypinder on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 12:07:55 PM PDT

  •  I hope they at least resisted the Bike Path lobby (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...and canceled all that special interest pork in providing low cost and effective ways to allow people to commute without adding to our fossil fuel deficit. Because there's nothing more tyrannical and caustic to our political process than the influence of Big Bicycle and their allies in the Walking lobby.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:13:18 PM PDT

    •  Cutting off their nose to spite their face (0+ / 0-)

      I'm always annoyed by the people who love cars so much that they need to hate any for of transportation that isn't one.  Spending money on bicycling infrastructure is quite literally the best investment we can make.  It's relatively cheap and there is a huge return on the money.

      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 12:23:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  These idiots want a train wreck! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Republicans would love to ruin this country under a Democratic President.  

    They've been talking about how the country is going to the dogs for decades - and this is their chance to send it to hell!

    And elected Democrats hardly know what to do other than clutch their pearls!!!  

  •  "Someday, perhaps, Congress will wise up." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, v2aggie2

    A rising sun in the west is more likely.

  •  Will this bill bring jobs? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm okay with the Transportation Bill.  It's needed.  But, if it isn't about creating long-term jobs, I have to wonder why there is a huge effort on this rather than J O B S efforts.  Our people are hurting...hurting BIG TIME.  

    Jobs...Priority ONE...REMEMBER??????

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:24:22 PM PDT

    •  Actually, it is about creating jobs (0+ / 0-)

      a longer-term bill allows for more planning.  This allows for a more orderly and organized prioritization of projects, which allows for planned capital expenditure and longer-term hiring for transportation projects

      Barack Obama for President '08

      by v2aggie2 on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 07:39:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's okay (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    America will just let more dirty socialist Europeans build more toll roads in the USA.

    No Jesus, Know Peace

    by plok on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:24:27 PM PDT

  •  Whats the big deal ? (0+ / 0-)

    Paved roads and bridges are so yesterday !!!

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:25:22 PM PDT

  •  the power elite in the gop is destroying itself (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the current political course of the republican party makes no sense. i do not believe anyone can be that dumb, there must be a reasonable explanation to their self destruction, perhaps they have realized that they made a pact with the devil when they decided to pandered to the fundamental extremists, and will be rebuilding the party once they clean house. if this is the case would love to see the faces of cantor and ryan when they realize they are out in the cold.

  •  I highly recommend "pipedream" link n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "All politics is national."

    by Auriandra on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:33:35 PM PDT

  •  John Boehner is bad at his job (0+ / 0-)

    We're going to need another full-time babysitter in the nursery.

  •  What I want to know (0+ / 0-)

    is what is happening with all the non-transportation amendments that were being attached, particularly one which would let corporations continue to wildly underfund pensions. Transportation is one thing—but if the end result means also eventually putting taxpayers on the hook for even more failed pension programs, then we will be taken for more of a ride than we think.

    •  Someone in Congress needs to introduce a meta bill (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Legislation to ban the attachment of unrelated riders to other legislation. All bills need to stand or fall on their own merits.

      Trickle Down Economics 101: They get the golden parachute, we get the golden shower.

      by NoMoreLies on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 07:25:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is why the Democrats need to take the house (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pam from Calif

    The sooner we get rid of these do nothing Republicans the better, worst republican leadership in the history of the United States.

    Lewis Black nailed it once again....

    In God We Rust!

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