Senate votes down not one — but two — transportation/infrastructure bills

Just in case you missed yesterday’s news, here is a summary from Metro’s government relations staff:

Today, the United States Senate voted down two different Transportation/Infrastructure bills. The Senate voted down 51 to 49 the Infrastructure portion of President Obama’s American Jobs Act. The bill would have funded $50 billion in additional infrastructure and would have created a $10 billion National Infrastructure Bank. The second bill, which is the Republican-led extension of the current Transportation authorization with environmental streamlining riders, failed on a 47 to 53 vote. Next Wednesday, November 9, 2011, Senator Boxer will be holding her Environment Public Works (EPW) Mark-Up on the Democrat two-year Highway Extension Bill (MAP-21). Metro’s Government Relations team is in close contact with the Senator’s staff on these issues and will keep Board members apprised of any future developments.

Here’s how the New York Times summed it up in an editorial:

There’s nothing partisan about a road or a bridge or an airport; Democrats and Republicans have voted to spend billions on them for decades and long supported rebuilding plans in their own states. On Thursday, though, when President Obama’s plan to spend $60 billion on infrastructure repairs came up for a vote in the Senate, not a single Republican agreed to break the party’s filibuster.

That’s because the bill would pay for itself with a 0.7 percent surtax on people making more than $1 million. That would affect about 345,000 taxpayers, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, adding an average of $13,457 to their annual tax bills. Protecting that elite group — and hewing to their rigid antitax vows — was more important to Senate Republicans than the thousands of construction jobs the bill would have helped create, or the millions of people who would have used the rebuilt roads, bridges and airports.

And my take? This is a Senate vote and it’s certainly not fair to assume that Senate Republicans speak for all Republicans across the country. That said, at some point the many fine Republicans who support mass transit must change the course of their party if they want their transit-talk to be taken seriously.


5 replies

  1. The current political situation in America ensures that pro-transit Republicans will never get elected, at least not in important positions, and certainly not in strong enough numbers to make a difference.

    Part of the problem is that Republican-leaning states are states where transit is not currently or not likely to be an issue: a rural GOP senator gets no benefits from take a pro-transit stance.

    (“Look at this light rail line that I helped build…. someplace else” *crickets*)

    [ A pro-transit Republican might stand a chance in a more urban state, but so would a pro-transit Democrat. ]

    The bigger problem is, the Tea Party and anti-tax factions of the Republican Party will eliminate any chance of a pro-transit candidate surviving the primary.

    It would be far wiser to push for the Democrats to regain the Senate and keep pushing Obama to support transit.

  2. I’m not going to be political in my post (i’ll try my best and be vague), but it has to be said that these bills being filibustered the way they are is unprecedented. These bills are non-controversial and have the votes to pass under normal conditions (simpler majority vote) in which the constitutions dictates.

    I urge everyone to please look at who votes no on these bills and conducted the filibuster that blocks the bills we need now. Our transportation is not something that we can subject to partisanship since we all rely on good transportation. We need to rebuild it and expand it in all forms.

  3. Sad news but again, it’s the harsh reality of tough economic times.

    With said budget cuts, LA really has to get the ball moving to make up for funding cuts.

    The only option on the table is higher local and state taxes, higher transit fares, cut back services, or seeking alternative measures to move public transit from being so dependent on taxpayers and become more self-sufficient with higher farebox recovery ratios.

    I move to end LA Metro’s involvement with the our freeway projects and use the budgeted funds for public transit. LA doesn’t need to allocate precious billions on more freeways or highway projects. The same billions can be used to improve our own public transportation infrastructure.

  4. This is very sad, the party of NO prevails again in doing exactly nothing. Again and again we are failed at every turn by those in power. When will politics end and real policy begin?