Transportation Bill Held Up By House Republicans

  on March 23 2012 5:30 PM

House Republicans are pushing for a short-term extension of federal transportation funding, resisting pressure to pass a comprehensive bill. 

The Senate has passed a $109 billion bill that would authorize two years' worth of transportation funding, but House Republicans joined together on Wednesday to reject a vote on the Senate legislation. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has been unable to marshal enough votes for a five-year, $270 billion  House version fo the bill.

Federal transportation funding is set to dry up on March 31, imperiling bridge, road and other transit projects across the country. Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood and members of the Senate have been pushing the House to move such legislation.

The clock is ticking on the shutdown of our transportation programs, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said. Boxer who led efforts to pass the Senate bill. We're talking about almost 3 million jobs, and the House is playing games. This is a jobs bill, make no mistake about it.

But with revenue from the federal gasoline tax no longer adequate to pay for the country's transportation needs, House Republicans have cited the need to find new sources of money.

We're just out of money, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told the Hill. And so we're trying to take the approach that most American families and business would take, and that is to try and spend within our means, to come with some innovative ways to look at transportation needs and demands in the future, and our being able to meet them.

The House legislation would raise more money in part by eliminating a requirement that states spend some money on bike paths and sidewalks. It would also open up more offshore drilling, something that Boehner called a critical difference between the House and Senate versions.

The problem with the Senate bill is that it doesn't address the issue of rising gas prices and energy, Boehner told the Associated Press. We believe that if we're going to reauthorize the highway bill, American energy production ought to be a critical part of it.

For the time being, House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) is calling on the House to pass a three month temporary extension of funding. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has resisted the idea, suggesting that the intransigence of tea party-affiliated lawmakers.

Over in a big, dark hole we now refer to as the tea-party-dominated House of Representatives ... they destroyed their own bill, and now they won't agree to take up our bill, the Associated Press quoted Reid saying.

Much of America's infrastucture is in poor shape. Citing old, deteriorating bridges and outdated roads and sewer systems, the American Society of Civil Engineers assigned U.S. infrastructure an overall D grade in 2009.

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