The Reviews Are In: Boehner's Highway Bill "Uniquely Terrible"

With the House set to take up a massive surface transportation bill next week, we here in the Democratic Whip Press Shop wanted to catalog the opposition to Speaker Boehner’s 1,000 page behemoth of a bill. While highway bills have traditionally been bipartisan endeavors, the only thing bipartisan about this bill is the overwhelming opposition to it.  Facing criticism from all sides, the bill is threatening to veer off the road before it even hits the Floor.

Republican lawmakers don’t like the bill:

  • Transportation Secretary and Former Republican Rep. Ray LaHood:This is the most partisan transportation bill that I have ever seen. And it also is the most anti-safety bill I have ever seen. It hollows out our No. 1 priority, which is safety…It’s the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen during 35 years of public service.” [Politico 2/3/12]
  • Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe Said House GOP Plan on Revenues is “Not Realistic:” “Inhofe told POLITICO. ‘I think it’s not realistic that you can fund any size bill — let alone a six-year bill — with proceeds from increased [energy] production.’” [Politico, 11/9/11]
  • Senior Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette: “Just from my standpoint, it’s got some difficulties with the labor provisions, with the environmental provisions, the formula provisions… We need more money. And so the challenge should be to fix the Highway Trust Fund, not to sort of kick the can down the road and pick winners and losers ideologically.” [Politico 2/6/12]

Media outlets have panned the bill:

  • The New York Times:The list of outrages coming out of the House is long, but the way the Republicans are trying to hijack the $260 billion transportation bill defies belief. This bill is so uniquely terrible that it might not command a majority when it comes to a floor vote, possibly next week, despite Speaker John Boehner’s imprimatur. But betting on rationality with this crew is always a long shot.” [2/9/12]
  • Politico:Speaker John Boehner owns the highway bill — and he’ll be on the hook if it turns into a 435-car pileup. It was the Ohio Republican’s idea to pair transportation with energy. He plans to bring the bill to the floor under a wide-open amendment process, even as other Republican leaders have kept this legislative monster at arm’s length.” [2/7/12]

Math majors should take issue with the bill:

  • Boehner and his fellow Republicans have insisted the $260 billion behemoth will be paid for with drilling revenues. Despite adding untenable provisions like drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the CBO has found the bill will only generate $4.3 billion, less than 2 percent of the total cost of the bill.

Even Republican-friendly groups like the Club for Growth and The Heritage Foundation oppose the measure. Looks like Speaker Boehner’s bill is on a highway to nowhere.