A long-term transportation package that would re-authorize current spending on highway construction projects and lock-in infrastructure spending for future projects appears all but dead thanks to Republican obstruction in the House of Representatives. With time running out before current authorization ends at the end of the month, House Republicans are demanding the Senate add approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to a transportation bill that already passed with widespread bipartisan support.
House and Senate negotiators have been meeting for weeks — since the Senate passed its bill, 74-22 — to work out a compromise, but the House GOP has repeatedly threatened to walk away unless the pipeline is attached. Now, the legislation is all but dead, an industry source told The Hill:
“I think the bill’s dead,” a transportation industry source said to The Hill on Friday. “I don’t think they can fix what they have in front of them. Kicking it up to the leadership probably gives it a chance…but every time they get to the five-yard line, they move the goal posts back.”
Lawmakers have until June 30 to reach a deal on transportation spending before the current funding mechanism for road and transit projects runs out. [...]
Boxer said that the House lacked “urgency” and “leadership” in the highway negotiations. [House Transportation Committee Chairman John] Mica countered that the Senate “appears unwilling to compromise at all” on House provisions, like mandating the approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.
This isn’t the first time House Republicans have jeopardized millions of transportation jobs by demanding approval of the pipeline. They threatened to walk away from negotiations early this month for that reason, and in March nearly caused a transportation shutdown before passing a short-term re-authorization. The implications aren’t small: 1.9 million workers will have to walk off the job without re-authorization of highway funds. Senate Democrats estimate that the long-term authorization package will create an additional one million jobs on top of that.
House Republicans have pitched the pipeline as a job creator, but the State Department estimates it will lead to only 6,000 temporary jobs — a far cry from the nearly three million created or saved by the long-term highway bill the GOP is blocking.