With federal highway funding about to expire and highway projects around the country on the verge of shutting down – we have just the kind of crisis that’s required for everyone involved to finally take action.
Instead of holding out for a bill to extend the highway money for four years, the White House has now decided to settle for extending it only until May of 2015. So that we can have another crisis then.
Are these crises really necessary? Even if we disagree on everything else, what could possibly be more American than smooth roads and sturdy bridges?
Well, as Monday’s hearing of the House Rules Committee revealed – it’s about how you raise the money and who gets to spend it.
Democrats like Rep Alcee Hastings want a higher gas tax, “I called it all unadulterated cowardice.”
Republicans like Scott Garrett of New Jersey can accept a gas tax, but they want to free the states from federal rules on how to spend it. Garrett says he’s tired of getting blank stares from various Secretaries of Transportation.
“I would often ask them, can you tell me what exactly are the needs on Route 519 in Sussex County. And they would say, where exactly is 519 in Sussex County. And no one knows where that it is, and yet Washington is telling us how to grade it and put up guard rails.”
But that issue will be left unsettled for now. The existing program will simply be extended. So the roads can at least be maintained – just long enough to kick that particular can down them once again.