House Transportation Bill Falls Short

Next week, the House of Representatives will begin debate on the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R.7). This is a contentious transportation bill that many conservatives have expressed serious concerns – and rightly so.

Several issues have conservatives concerned. First, the price tag. Second, the massive funding gap. Third, falling short of devolution to the states.

Given our looming debt crisis, it makes sense the biggest issue with this bill is the fact that it spends more money than is available. On the spending side, the five-year bill would spend more than $262 billion, and establish a new, $40 billion fund for alternative transit (think high-speed rail!).

Federal transportation projects are traditionally funded through transportation-related revenues, such as the 18.4 cent-per-gallon gas tax you pay every time you fill up at the pump. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the government will collect about $193 billion in transportation-related revenues over the next 5 years. Unfortunately, that is roughly $70 billion less than the House transportation bill costs,

How do House Republicans propose covering this gap? Well, by some calculations there is still about $15.6 billion available for use in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), so that leaves $54 billion to make up.

Regardless of how that gap is covered, the Congressional Research Service notes it “would weaken the claim that road users pay the cost of the federal highway program.”

The current plan is to make up that remaining difference, in part, by opening up oil and gas exploration. While this is something that needs to happen, using it as a “pay-for” to justify an increase in spending is anathema to conservative principles. But even these “pay-fors” won’t cover the entire cost of the bill. The House will consider various other bills, but conservatives remain concerned a funding gap will exist in reality, if not on paper, and ultimately, taxpayers will be on the hook to bailout the bill.

While there are some good reforms in the House bill – no earmarks, program consolidation, state flexibility, etc. – the problem of overspending remains. House Republicans should continue to focus on eliminating wasteful programs and begin cutting spending and devolving the transportation program back to the states.

America is at a crossroads, and what happens in November will likely determine which path we take. Our conservative vision for America could not be more different from President Obama’s vision, and we must seize every opportunity we can to highlight those differences to the American people. This transportation bill represents an opportunity for conservatives in Congress to heed the calls of the 2010 elections and to promote their ideals of limited government, lower spending, and more state control.

Related Links:
Key Vote Alert: “NO” on the Senate Transportation Bill
Will Transportation Reauthorization Be Another Big Spending Boondoggle?
Heritage’s “Saving the American Dream”

Please Share Your Thoughts
  • frank7041

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the AWESOME. The conservative Republican House bill is the way to go! Washington lobbyists are losing their minds — so many pet program eliminated by the Republicans! Transit and enviro interests are furious. House bill smacks down turncoat LaHood over bike paths and high speed rail. Environmental streamlining will cut highway project costs and break through federal government regulations. No earmarks! Transit is off the gas tax!

    PASS THE HOUSE BILL!

  • frank7041

    Who supports the EARMARK-FREE House bill: Boehner, Cantor, and McCarthy. At least they all can agree on this one.

  • Anonymous

    I like that there are no earmarks here, but why created another budget busting program? We need to learn to live with our means and the transportation budget should be limited to what the gas tax generates nad what the highway trust fund has available.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jhon-Kacan/100003185883958 Jhon Kacan

      We must leave with a money we have,no more land money to China especial,is many way for save a money,one are close and seal,with a Army in control,no more money help to Mexico or any another Country.

    • http://heritageaction.com/author/nyellis/ Nathanael Yellis
  • Anonymous

    Instead of spending billions of dollars on highways . . . and not have any businesses to use them and no one with the money to buy gasoline . . . how about taking some of those billions and start to rebuild industries in our center cities. That’ll cut down on welfare costs, cut down on imports and start to rebuild America and the American dream. Take qualified people from the center cities, train them in the new industries, start them working and give them a new sense of self worth.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nellie-McConnell/1277726562 Nellie McConnell

      They are building over passes and some areas along the highway there is a area where there may be a road some day. This area is about 100 X 100 that is now a road to no where! We don’t need 3 over passes with in a 2 mile area. This is CA and Boxer creating jobs. GOD BLESS OUR COUNTRY. YOU ARE RIGHT ON WITH YOUR RESPONSE
      BUY AMERICAN!
      JUST SAW SOME PRODUCTS FROM VENEZUELA!
      WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MONEY THAT OBAMA GAVE BRAZIL FOR DRILLING? CHINA IS BUYING THE OIL!

  • Anonymous

    I now know why Democrats say the deficit doesn’t matter. We will default on our debt eventually (16T+ plus 140T in obligations that we can’t afford to pay). The other solution is for our gov’t to print the money to pay these debts. Either way, the dollar and our economy will be destroyed. Our savings, pensions, IRA’s, 401K’s, evrything will become worthless. This is intended by Odumbo, Gietner & Bernanke and our standard of living will NEVER get better, it is going to get MUCH WORSE!

  • Anonymous

    Balance the budget, it’s too late, just ask the Chinese. Their GNP is now bigger then ours. Their economy is growing at 9% ours is 1.2%. They’re buying up natural resources, establishing supply lines and economic alliances. They have basically “NO” debt, we borrow 40 cents of every dollar we spend. We owe over $1T to China and we are broke. They are the “Master” and we are now the “Servant”. We pis*ed it away because our gov’t spent too much and WE let them do it!

  • Anonymous

    How about this yall go home – and when the funds build up, spend it on something. These people cant even pass a budget. They shouldn’t be spending money on an project, if they can’t even do that. Since when is that O.k.? How is this not a subject of conversation in the news or by the guys running for President. No Way, should they keep spending this amount of money!

  • Anonymous

    Instead of SPENDING more and More; STOP IMMIGRATION , SEND ILLEGALS OUT , STOP SENDING JOBS TO BRAZIL , STOP IMPORTS FROM CHINA , START DRILLING HERE FOR OIL , PUT AMERICANS BACK TO WORK; THIS IS THE SOLUTION OF ALL OUR PROBLEMS. DO IT , STOP SPENDING , STOP WASTING TAXPAYERS MONEY.

  • Anonymous

    How about all the money that is “earmarked” by Pelosi and Reid (parks to enhance Pelosi’s property value and bridge to casino that just happens to be on Reid’s land and will increase the value of his property) being spent to pay down the debt. THEN, think about spending within budget? Suppose that would work? All of this money that is being talked about is money that the U.S. Government does not have. That means, higher taxes to get that money. Government is spending the money before they get it, all on speculation and you better believe that means higher taxes!! Instead of cutting back on Military personnel and closing bases/posts to save bucks to pay off the debt, the Federal Government cuts out the fat and pork barrel spending, get rid of the unscrupulous Czars and Michelle’s 22 attendants and less spending on wardrobe and cut out the vacations to Hawaii, Africa, and God knows where else. That would help get the debt paid down, wouldn’t it? How about getting rid of Federal Reserve – that would save some expensive salaries being paid out to accountants who don’t know their bum from a hole in the ground. In other words, It’s time to STOP SPENDING money that the government does not have!! The American people will come up with ways to get the economy turned around. They have been doing that for a long time. When Big Government sticks their noses in, it all goes to h in a handbasket!

  • Jo

    Unfortunately, the people we elected to Congress, demanding they put an end to the spending that is bankrupting our country, are “caving in” to Obama and his Liberals and continuing the same spending. We thought the Conservative Congress members would stand up to Obama and DEMAND an end to his socialist agenda of Obamacare, green jobs, take overs of companies, banks, etc. and ignoring open borders, where diseases are coming into our country that we haven’t seen in 50 years, suing our states to prohibit our own citizens from protecting themselves. Do we not have any elected officials with “backbone”. We have a Justice department that ignores injustice to our citizens, but agrees to allow a foreign country (Mexico) to sue in our courts, against our citizens. We are losing our Democracy.

  • http://twitter.com/publiusBh Judith Weiss

    I just wonder how repsonsible the states are with our money given the fact that so many states are now underwater? Here in AZ, every time we turn around they are tearing-up roads that were just repaired two or three years ago. What we need is ACCOUNTABILITY for both the fed. and state governments.

  • Anonymous

    Just how do you expect the Politicians to get richer if they do no wave a carrot in front of us peon’s to pull the wagon. Any bill that does not CUT BACK on SPENDING is just another political SCAM. WAKE UP!!!

  • Anonymous

    Before retiring,I was an over the road driver.I watched the st. of KS. redo U.S. 69 from Newton to Emporia.Given the fact that the state loves illegals,IMO the contractor & all of the people who worked on the highway were most likely illegal.After completion,the inspectors turned it down because it did not meet requirements.They had to do the whole thing over.Now that is Gov. waste big time.As a resident of KS. at that time,I was outraged,but the general public didn’t seam to mind.
    TX. is another example of continuous highway building.It takes them years to complete a strip of highway only to start ripping it up for improvements as soon as it is finished.Their reason,”increase in traffic.” Shouldn’t that have been taken into consideration before construction started?
    The mindset of the states is,”we are given this Fed. money.If we don’t spend it,we have to give it back.” Where did the Fed. Gov. get the money?They extracted it from our pockets.It was not free money.The states need to be more responsible with the way they spend our money.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XPFCMP33L2BEAJWUZRSQS6TGRY Dana

    We need to get all these people out, Republicans or Democrats, it is all about POWER, they have us convinvced we are STUPID. ACT AND VOTE

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  • Anonymous

    “Where are you going to this money take it out of your pockets not ours” Why the hell don’t you ass holes take what money you need for this shit, you pass from (Foriegn aid).
    Leave the Damn S.S. alone. You all send them all kinds of our money and all they want to do is kill US..