Transportation Bill Thoughts

The US House of Representatives is apparently focused entirely on the transportation bill this week – there are some interesting articles coming out about it. The way they make laws in this country – it’s terrible and it’s ugly but it’s the best system ever devised.

Here’s this bill, all about transportation, and the country’s future and the (possible) solution to the crumbling infrastructure and everything, and the first step is, they have to vote up or down on a hundred amendments, many of which have nothing to do with transportation. But some do.

First, a Wisconsin Republican sponsored a bill, co-sponsored by 3 Democrats from OR, NC, and MN, to allow states to raise the weight limit on trucks from 80K to 91K., and it went down in flames yesterday.
This means the final vote will NOT include this provision.

Second, the way the bill is written today, the CSA scores will be secret until some mysterious review of the algorithms is completed.
There is an amendment that would keep the scores public until the review is completed.

Third, there is an amendment that would allow states to raise fuel taxes but it would also make states responsible for maintenance of the interstate highways within their borders. I remember reading about this a year ago. First time I remember seeing the word “Devolve” in a federal law of any kind. (as in devolve authority and responsibility to a lower level – think limited government and leaving everything to the states that is not specifically done by the federal gov’t according to the constitution).

Apparently there are as many as 250 amendments, transportation-related and otherwise, being discussed, and the prediction is, the highway bill will be voted on, in it’s entirety, by the end of the week.
The end of the week, if I am not mistaken, is Thursday. These hard-working lawmakers have to have a 4-day weekend every week, you know.

Of course, this is the house version of the transportation bill. The senate already passed a different version and the two will have to be reconciled. Still, we may have a six-year bill by the end of this year. The biggest question, I believe, is how the whole thing will be funded.

The reason this is not a part of the overall omnibus funding measure that allows for budgets for most other government functions is, transportation infrastructure has long been paid for, in theory, by the fuel taxes. Since fuel taxes have always been a per-gallon thing and not a percentage, the transportation budget takes a hit when we put more-fuel-efficient cars and trucks on the nation’s highways.

So a lot of ink will be spilled to describe how the whole package will be funded for the next six years. The last I heard, there was this hocus-pocus theory about the one-time tax windfall that might result from repatriation of oversees funds held by American corporations.
(HUH? – whatthehelldoes thathave to dowith transportation?)
I hope they come up with a better solution than that. I really do.
This is all smoke and mirrors and projections that may or may not come to pass.

OK, I admit it. I kind of enjoy watching government work. Just a little. It’s kind of like watching a train wreck; it’s awful but you can’t take your eyes off it. . . wait, that would be the FRA’s jurisdiction; are they included?

Yeap, that’s part of the transportation bill also.
(funding for the federal railroad administration)
I wonder where their funding comes from?
I better go read some more.

Source: Transportation Bill Thoughts

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