Transportation Bill Coming Today
This afternoon, House Republicans are expected to drop a transportation bill that will fund the department at roughly the current level. The bill will fund the department for five years and shift some authority back to the states.
Unfortunately, the bill is not what is necessary in our current climate of massive budget deficits. It represents a missed opportunity to begin devolving transportation authority back to the states, and creates a massive budget gap. Because federal gas tax revenues are down, they will need to find additional revenue to close the spending gap of $59 billion.
How does Congress plan to pay for this bill? By opening up more areas for drilling. Now, conservatives certainly welcome more drilling, but that revenue shouldn’t be used to continue spending at current levels; it takes the pressure off necessary reforms and reductions!
Heritage Action’s CEO was quoted (sub. req’d) in Politico’s Morning Transportation for his theory on why more and more conservatives are coming out against this bill:
“One of the problems you have in Washington, is you take really bad legislation, which the highway bill is, and you put a sweetener in it. That’s what’s going on here.
“[H]ighway spending is paid for out of the trust fund, and money should go into that based on the gas tax. [T]hey totally blew that up in 2005 with the last highway bill, which was one of the reasons that people got sick of the Republican Congress.
“As more and more people get educated about this, there are members who are starting to raise eyebrows. That’s one of the reasons this is moving so quickly.”
Conservatives need to hold fast to their campaign promises of reduced spending.