Thursday, April 26, 2012

House Motion To Accept Sen. Transportation Bill Fails

Apr 24: The House and Senate have now appointed the members to the Conference Committee to resolve the differences, which are substantial, between the two versions of the reauthorization of the Highway Surface Transportation program [See WIMS 4/24/12]. The House version, H.R.4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, provides a short-term extension and includes highly controversial provisions requiring approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and the management and reuse of coal ash. The Senate version, S.1813, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), provides a two-year $109 billion surface transportation reauthorization.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) named the following 14 Senate conferees: Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Max Baucus (D-MT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), David Vitter (R-LA), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and John Hoeven (R-ND).

    On the House side, 20 Republicans and 13 Democrats were named including: Representatives John Mica (R-FL), Don Young (R-AK), John Duncan (R-TN), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R--WA), Larry Buschon (R-IN), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Steve Southerland (R-FL), James Lankford (R-OK), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Fred Upton (R-MI), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Doc Hastings (R-WA), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Ralph Hall (R-TX), Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Dave Camp (R-MI), Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Leonard Boswell (D-IA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

    In the House, Representative Rahall (D-WV), Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee offered a motion to instruct the House Conferees "to recede from disagreement to the amendment of the Senate." Rep. Rahall explained, "Running these programs through short-term extensions creates tremendous uncertainty among State departments of transportation, public transit agencies, and highway and transit contractors that delay critical highway and transit projects, costing good-paying jobs each step of the way. With more than 2.5 million construction and manufacturing workers still out of work, it is far past time for Congress to enact surface transportation legislation that will remove this uncertainty, create and sustain family-wage jobs, and restore our Nation's economic growth.

   That's why I offer this motion today. We have an opportunity before us to move quickly to pass legislation that can remove this uncertainty and get America back to work. Over a month ago, the Senate passed S. 1813, known as MAP 21, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 74 22. Now, each of us in this body knows how difficult it is for the other body to agree on just about anything. But, unlike the House, the Senate was able to come together to pass bipartisan legislation that will provide States with the certainty that they need to move forward with highway and transit projects and get Americans back to work. It is time for the House, believe it or not, to follow the other body's lead and pass S. 1813. . ."

    Representative Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, rebutted the Rahall motion and said in part, "Today they propose closing down that free and open process. Let's just adopt what the Senate tossed over to us. I say 'no,' and I say 'no' for a whole host of reasons. The Senate proposal is a proposal that will bankrupt the trust fund. The Senate proposal is a path to just building paths, to resurfacing, to short-term jobs, not answering the call of the people who sent us here to make certain that their transportation money, when they go fill up their gas tank, pay for 1 gallon of gas, 18.4 cents comes to Washington in the trust fund, and we spend it. That's what this sets the policy for, what's eligible for receiving those Federal dollars.

    The Rahall motion to instruct failed by a vote of 181-242. The vote include 180 Democrats and 1 Republican voting for the motion; and 238 Republicans and 4 Democrats voting against it.

    Access legislative details for H.R.4348 (click here). Access legislative details for S.1813 (click here). Access the complete, lengthy House Floor debate on the motion to recede and instruct (click here). Access a release from House Republicans on the Keystone XL and coal ash provisions (click here). [#Transport]

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