New House rule on transportation funding attracts fans, foes 

Count Ron Utt of the Heritage Foundation as one of the fans:

[P]roposed amendments to Rule XXI—which addresses the federal highway program—would amend the existing rule that was put in place earlier to guarantee full funding of the infamous SAFETEA-LU, a piece of legislation passed in 2005 that set a record for earmarks and included the “bridge to nowhere.”

Under the proposed change, highway and transit funding would no longer have that guarantee and could be reduced by Congress, including if trust fund revenues fall below authorized spending levels. At the same time, the new rule would continue to protect trust fund revenues from being diverted to non-transportation programs.

As such, highway spending would now be subject to the same budgetary treatment as other discretionary federal spending programs, including homeland security, public health, education and national defense.

This development alarms various constituencies, including but not limited to highway contractors. And Utt responds:

[I]n their joint letter to House leadership, the trade associations argue that the change will “make annual federal highway and transit investments subject to the whims of the appropriations process.” So? What makes the highway program special in comparison to other core responsibilities of government?

What makes it so special? Perhaps it's the same thing that makes the automakers and big banks so special that they get a bailout. Or the same thing that makes "green" companies with shaky finances so special that they get enormous infusions of stimulus cash.

About The Author

David Freddoso

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David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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