While the best-case scenario is a longer-term fix, this bill keeps jobs in place and gives Congress time to work on what the country really needs: a long-term plan to care for our roads and infrastructure.–Rep. Tom Reed
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) writes:
I voted no on #HR5021, Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014.
The bill provides a $10.8 billion bailout for the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). It makes no structural reforms to help avoid the need for similar bailouts in the future. And the “offset” to “pay for” the spending is typical Washington: Spending for 10 months, through May 31, 2015, is “offset” with “savings” that will take 10 years to materialize and the bulk of which are budgeting gimmicks.
The bill also raids a different trust fund established for another purpose—the irony of which I hope isn’t lost on those responsible for this legislation. With over $50 billion in HTF bailouts behind us and likely over $150 billion in HTF bailouts to look forward to over the next decade, this bill is a sad embarrassment. It passed 367-55.
The bill transfers $1 billion from a trust fund established to pay for cleaning up pollution from leaking underground storage tanks. This fund runs a surplus of about $200 million a year.
Unlike Rep. Amash, Rep. Reed voted Aye. Here is how Tom Reed explains his vote:
“The bipartisan bill we voted for today will keep jobs in place and avoid construction project delays,” Reed said. “It’s important we keep local road repairs going and make sure local project contracts are able to continue – especially through these busy travel months during the summer. Making sure the Highway Trust Fund is there for generations to come is something I care about and something I’m committed to protecting.”
Unlike Rep. Amash, Tom acknowledges only the bright side–he makes no mention of funding other than this:
“While some in the House and Senate were pushing for a tax hike at the gas pump, I’m glad the House-passed fix doesn’t put more financial pressure on families. Raising the gas tax on American families trying to drive to work, pick their kids up from school or drive a parent to the doctor isn’t fair. They’re already under enough financial stress. What we voted on today takes a practical approach that doesn’t raise taxes and keeps road projects moving in the right direction.”
For Tom, a “practical approach” is to turn his blind eye to the matter of funding. Tom seems to have learned a political lesson–it is easier to vote for necessary spending than to find a way to pay for it.
© William Hungerford – September 2014