What more could be said about the necessity for a transportation authorization bill? Nothing? We all understand it is vital, right? OK, good. Maybe it's more important to discuss what is actually going on and what some industry insiders talk about off the record.
First, Congress is currently working under a March 31 deadline to get an authorization bill done or risk the further slowing down or stoppage altogether of more than 100,000 transportation construction projects around the nation. Yesterday, the Senate roundly rejected Republican-backed attempts to extend the Keystone XL oil pipeline, delay tougher air pollution standards for industrial boilers and expand offshore oil drilling, as part of the House's authorization proposal.
The House's proposal from the start has been a complete sham. First, Republicans are painting it as their way to create jobs and get the nation's economy rolling again. This attempt was already made by President Barack Obama in both his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and in his own transportation plan, which started out as a $556 billion package but has now shrunk significantly. Both of these proposals were roundly criticized by Republicans.
It doesn't take a fool to realize that the House proposal is less about maintaining or growing jobs and investing in all forms of transportation, and actually, more about some Republicans attempting to sneak in issues like extending the Keystone XL pipeline, which they have now been trying to do for years. In fact, yesterday it was reported that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) held a private meeting urging Republicans to get on board with his proposal, which he has not been able to garner enough support for. If there isn't support why is Boehner pushing so hard?
Now is the time to urge Congress to pass a version of the transportation authorization bill that is in the best interest of the nation instead of their own.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Urban and rural transit, different yet similar," here.