It was welcome news last week to learn that the U.S. Senate, with bipartisan support, passed a national transportation bill that would authorize funding for roads, bridges and mass transit. Those things are critical to this nation’s economic health, and highways in particular are in need of significant maintenance money. Now the House must approve.
Not so welcome is the revelation of what’s included in the bill and what’s left out.
Included, according to Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, is a $45 million earmark that would go directly to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home state of Nevada. This at a time when earmarks are supposed to be forbidden, and the nation’s debt is exploding.
Absent from the bill is any long-term funding mechanisms for transportation. Without something like an increase in the gas tax, the Highway Users Trust Fund will be gone in two years, The Washington Post reported.
It appears Congress has left the nation’s transportation future on cruise control, while major roadblocks loom ahead.