The House Republican spending plan for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 — H.R. 1 — includes many economically counterproductive cuts that will lead to job loss and stunted growth. One of these is a provision rescinding unobligated money from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II, or TIGER II, grant program. The program is designed to deliver competitive grants to states for high-need infrastructure projects.
All but three Republican senators voted for H.R.1 when it was before the Senate, and those three only voted no because they wanted even deeper cuts than those included in the bill. But three GOP senators — Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) — are now taking credit for a grant to rebuild the Memorial Bridge that was provided under the TIGER II program they voted to cut:
COLLINS: “I am delighted by today’s announcement that this critical $20 million will be preserved that will help to rehabilitate a vital link for our states’ businesses and people…I particularly appreciate Secretary LaHood’s working so closely with me to expedite the process to guarantee this funding.”
SNOWE: “Snowe said she is grateful the US DOT fulfilled its commitment to the Memorial Bridge project in a timely fashion, and that completion of the bridge overhaul was not jeopardized by ongoing budget debates in Washington, D.C.”
AYOTTE: “Having been called ‘one of the worst bridges in America,’ I am pleased that paperwork issues have been resolved allowing this project to move forward. New Hampshire and Maine have already made a serious commitment to replacing Memorial Bridge, and I am glad that DOT followed through on its commitment.”
After having voted to rescind any funding left for this program, the three New England Republicans lobbied the Department of Transportation to release the funding quickly before the recissions could take place. When H.R. 1 was before the Senate, Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood warned people before the vote that approving those could put projects in peril. “We just want to make sure everybody understands that,” LaHood said.
Overall, H.R 1 “cuts funding for transportation infrastructure by 9 percent, slashing $2.7 billion from rail, $675 million from federal transit investments, and nearly $1 billion from highway investments.” Unfortunately for those trying to use America’s aged and disintegrating infrastructure, not every project will be rushed through to avoid the budget cuts that the GOP wants to implement.