90-Day Highway Extension Planned
The back-and-forth on highway and transit funding continues. Today, House Republicans announced they would seek a 90-day extension of current law. CQ (sub. req’d) has the details:
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John L. Mica, R-Fla., said the short-term extension will allow the GOP conference time to work out differences on a longer-term bill that would link surface transportation authorization to expanded domestic oil and gas production.
“We continue to believe that linking energy and infrastructure is the responsible thing to do in order to meet our long-term needs,” Mica said in a written statement.
The delay would allow Mica’s staff to tinker with the five-year, $260 billion proposal (HR 7) in an attempt to satisfy concerns raised by different segments of the Republican caucus.
Conservative members of the caucus are unhappy with the bill’s funding levels, which exceed the money projected to be available in the Highway Trust Fund.
“Tinkering” is unlikely to satisfying conservative concerns, which extend well beyond overspending. Interestingly, House Republicans have the blueprint on the spending side – they proposed it in July!
Instead of tinkering, House Republicans should think outside the box and embrace the Transportation Empowerment Act (H.R.3264). TEA would get Congress out of the highway business and empower states to keep their own money, giving them an element of certainty and freeing them from the costly and cumbersome strings that come attached with federal monies.