Murray Amendment Fails; Boxer-Inhofe Amendment May Move $50 Billion to Highways Only; $5 Billion for General Transportation May be Converted to Highways Only; New Tax Relief for Car Consumption
After today’s dramatic failure of the Murray/Feinstein amendment, which would have given $25 billion more to transportation projects in general and $5 billion more for transit specifically, I didn’t think matters could get much worse, but they’ve gone terribly wrong in almost every way possible.
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) will introduce an amendment later today giving $50 billion to highways alone. No money for transit, and a lot of money going directly to states that will spend their funds on highways we don’t need.
Meanwhile, Senator Boxer is also coming close to endorsing a plan by Kit Bond (R-MO) to transfer $5.5 billion that would be for any type of surface transportation to highways alone. Hello?
Perhaps the cherry on the cake was the passage by voice vote an amendment by Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) that will allow consumers to get a tax rebate on payments on car loans.
That’s right, folks. Our Senate is making it very clear that any investment in transit in this stimulus will be pushed to the back of the bandwagon… even though infrastructure construction has been proven over and over as the most reliable actual stimulus.
Both Democrats and Republicans are at fault here. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) voted against the motion that would have made it possible for a vote on the Murray amendment. She claimed that she was attempting to help get Republican buy-in on the stimulus bill, because Republicans don’t want to agree to any increase in the size of the legislation.
But what’s the point of getting Republican buy-in if it means gutting the bill of the issues that matter? Where is the value given to green technologies if we’re willing to increase funds dramatically for automobile consumption and road construction?
The Senate’s stimulus bill is turning into a mess. Let’s hope that there are significant changes over the next few days… otherwise, I’ll be hoping for a strong pro-transit House contingent in the Conference Committee.