Friday, November 04, 2011

GOP & Senate Rules Defeat $60 Billion Infrastructure Funding Bill

Nov 3: Senate Republicans and rules requiring 60 votes in order to consider contested legislation combined to defeat the "infrastructure piece" (S.1769, the Rebuild America Jobs Act) [See WIMS 11/2/11] of the President's overall American Jobs Act, by a 51-49 vote. The President issued the following statement:
    "For the third time in recent weeks, every single Republican in the United States Senate has chosen to obstruct a jobs bill that independent economists said would boost our economy and put Americans back to work. At a time when more than a million construction workers are looking for a job, they voted "no" to putting them back to work doing the work America needs done -- rebuilding  our roads, bridges, airports and transit systems. That makes no sense.

    "It makes no sense when you consider that this bill was made up of the same kinds of common-sense proposals that many of these Senators have fought for in the past. It was fully paid for. And even though it was supported by more than 70 percent of the American people -- Republicans, Democrats, and independents -- 100 percent of Senate Republicans said no. It's more clear than ever that Republicans in Washington are out of touch with Americans from all ends of the political spectrum.

    "The American people deserve to know why their Republican representatives in Washington refuse to put some of the workers hit hardest by the economic downturn back on the job rebuilding America. They deserve an explanation as to why Republicans refuse to step up to the plate and do what's necessary to create jobs and grow the economy right now. It's time for Republicans in Congress to put country ahead of party and listen to the people they were elected to serve. It's time for them to do their job and focus on Americans' jobs.  And until they do, I will continue to do everything in my power to move this country forward."

    After voting to defeat the President's proposal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered the Republican alternative bill, S.1786, the Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act. That bill was also defeated along party lines by a vote of 53-47 (60-vote threshold).  In discussing the Republican alternative bill, Senator McConnell said:

    "We're going to see two very different approaches to infrastructure and job creation today. The American people can decide for themselves which one makes more sense. The Republican proposal extends the current highway bill for another two years, giving states and contractors the certainty they need to start new infrastructure projects and create jobs. The legislation Senator Hatch is proposing today puts an end to that uncertainty for the next two years. This proposal also gives states the authority to decide how this money is spent. If folks in Ohio or Kentucky want to build a bridge, Washington can't force them to build a bike path.

    "The Republican proposal accelerates the review period and clears away the bureaucratic red tape. The President admitted a few months ago that the shovel-ready projects in his first stimulus bill didn't turn out to be as shovel-ready as he thought. Our proposal helps make sure they are. Our bill prohibits the EPA from imposing burdensome and unnecessary new regulations on American cement producers and domestic boilers, so the cost of American-made materials for the projects paid for through this highway bill don't skyrocket just as they're set to begin. This bill keeps those costs down. Best of all, it's fully paid for through funds that were originally appropriated for another purpose but not spent. Whatever's left over after these projects are funded goes to pay down the deficit. . ."   

    Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, issued a statement following the two votes saying, "It is outrageous that Republicans defeated President Obama's bill, which would put people back to work by investing in our nation's aging infrastructure. Instead of supporting the President's proposal, Republicans offered a bill that would roll back public health safeguards and cause massive job losses through draconian funding cuts to programs that help all Americans."

    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member on the EPW Committee issued a lengthy statement saying in part, ". . .after today's vote on President Obama's failed infrastructure plan, I urge my colleagues to turn their attention now to a bill that is proven to create jobs and give our economy a much-needed boost. Of course, I'm talking about the bipartisan highway bill that I am sponsoring with my good friends, Senators Boxer, Vitter and Baucus. Most people are amazed at how close Senator Boxer and I are on this issue. While I appreciate President Obama's acknowledgement that infrastructure spending is highly effective at spurring job growth, it is clear that his plan was all show with no substance.  His bill was purely a political opportunity: it gave him a chance to stand in front of a bridge and make a speech about creating jobs, knowing full well that his bill would never pass. . .

    "The good news is that today's votes, on both the Democrat and Republican infrastructure bills, showed that there is a strong bipartisan majority in the Senate that supports creating jobs and strengthening our economy by rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges.  Fortunately, Senator Boxer and I are about to unveil our highway bill, which will do just that. . ."

    Last month, Senators Boxer, Inhofe Baucus (D-MT), and Vitter (R-LA), announced that they will markup a two-year surface transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), on November 9 in the EPW Committee.

    Access the statement from the President (click here). Access the statement from Senator McConnell (click here). Access the statement from Senator Boxer including links to information on the MAP-21 proposal (click here). Access the release from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access legislative details including links to roll call votes for S.1769 (click here). Access legislative details including links to roll call votes for S.1786 (click here). [#Transport]