Republican Push to Pass Big-Budget Roads Legislation

Republican Push to Pass Big-Budget Roads Legislation

Flipping their previous agenda of long-shot government-limitation legislation on its head, the GOP looks for a big-budget bill for roads construction.

It appears that House Republicans might not be so averse to government stimulus funding as they were when President Obama revealed his American Jobs Act only a month ago. Apparently in an attempt to re-brand their style of legislation, Republican leadership will push an initiative to pass a big-budget jobs-creation-via-infrastructure bill that will be tied to domestic energy production to help pay the enormous costs. A “government stimulus”, by their definition, but paid for. “Let’s link the next highway bill to an expansion of American-made energy production,” said House Speaker John Boehner last month, “There’s a natural link between the two: As we develop new sources of American energy, we’re going to need modern infrastructure to bring that energy to the market.

Speak Boehner announced that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are considering a big ticket highway bill that would rebuild the country’s transportation infrastructure over six-years. According to POLITICO, the last bill of this kind had a price tag of roughly $286 billion, but the committee has not yet released a cost analysis for their proposal. In addition the committee is looking to secure a long-term FAA budget that will allow the organization to continue working for years, unlike the present system in which the congress has been passing short-term stop-gap budgetary measures. Also, The Republican Ways and Means Committee is considering pushing a bill that would give export breaks to foreign companies that provide the U.S. with special chemicals and materials for domestic manufacturing; a legislative piece that Republicans have previously referred to as “earmarks” and so were banned.

At first glance it may appear that congressional Republicans are “over-correcting”, from their previous legislative legacy of austerity cuts and tax cuts to adoption of sweeping legislation with hundreds of billions in costs. For one, a red flag goes up whenever the GOP starts talking energy. Roads are great and our infrastructure is deteriorating without a doubt. But investment in transportation to “bring domestic energy to market” could mean providing broad state-funding for efforts in rail and other public transportation, as well as highways and bridges, or it can mean simply pouring billions into highways and interstates for people that drive cars. Given the present congress’ track-record on energy investment, I’d say we’re looking at the latter. I understand that a person in need of a job doesn’t care whether the road dotted with recharging stations for electric cars’ fuel cells, or if it’s for Mack trucks hauling Hummers. However, in any situation where we make these kinds of national investments, they have to be made with the future in mind. I haven’t seen congressional Republicans taking a long-view on anything, whether it was their previous legacy of divesting America, or their new one of investing in it.