“NO” on the House Transportation Bill
This week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs act of 2012 (H.R.7). The legislation reauthorizes various surface transportation programs for the next five years, at a cost of over $262 billion.
At $52.6 billion per year, this transportation bill would spend nearly $14 billion more per year than the plan proposed by House Republicans in July. That proposal successfully “realigned” spending with revenues from transportation taxes (such as the 18.4 cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline), which are expected to come in at $193.2 billion over the next five years. Unfortunately, this bill costs over $262 billion, well above the levels outlined by last year’s Ryan Budget.
In their July proposal, House Republicans committed to doing “more with less.” Instead, H.R.7 seemed to be a case of trying to do more with more. To pay for the increase, the bill embraces a series of potential revenues and pay fors, from increased revenues from oil and gas drilling to changes in lawmakers’ pension plans. Unfortunately, these offsets would be best used for deficit reduction and bailout the highway and transit programs.
The bill does contain some important and worthwhile reforms such as increasing state flexibility, consolidating programs and streamlining project review. However, these reforms are not enough to overcome the bill’s bloated price tag. This is an election year in which the American people are looking for fiscal conservatives who will stand up and say “no” to increased government stimulus spending. Passing this bill as the first major piece of legislation in 2012 sends the absolute wrong message about the spending priorities of House Republicans.
Lawmakers should not accept this increased spending; and instead, they should use the reforms included in the underlying package to justify a plan that lives within its means. Ultimately, transportation as an issue must be turned back to the states, but that becomes increasingly impossible when states view the federal government as a slush fund, getting more out of it than is paid in, which is exactly what will happen under H.R.7.
Heritage Action opposes H.R.7 and will include it as a key vote on our score card.
Heritage Action’s Scorecard
Key Vote Alert: “NO” on the Senate Transportation Bill
What House Republicans Believed, in July
Will Transportation Reauthorization Be Another Big Spending Boondoggle?
Big Dollars for Transportation
“Turn Back” Transportation to the States