June 18, 2012 — You know, I think it is really hard to strike a deal with someone after you have called them militant, radical, and extremist. Yet that is exactly what a democratic senator called conservative house republican members of the conference committee trying to develop a 15-month transportation bill. There are now less than two weeks remaining in the current short-term extension of SAFETEA-LU. The legislation either has to be extended or a new bill developed and passed prior to June 30, or the bill and funding lapses – in an election year, no less!
This is beginning to sound like a new chapter of the blame game. Each side blaming the other for stalled negotiation, negotiating in bad faith, and just not willing to go as far as the other side. Republicans want to ease environmental and regulatory review and want to restrict the use of the transportation enhancement program. Republicans also have tied the Keystone pipeline to the reauthorization proposal.
Democrats have threatened to just pass their Senate bill and count on the fact that it received strong bipartisan support in the senate. Many think if it gets introduced to the House, it will pass.
And so it goes. Fourteen days and we are still name-calling with a long-term solution out of sight. Sometimes, I hate it when I am right and this looks like one of those times. Look for a six-month extension to the end of the calendar year and then another one until early 2013. This Congress can’t get it done – let’s hope the next Congress can!
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