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Transportation Reauthorization Showdown Likely on Capitol Hill

With the current two-month transportation patch set to expire July 31, Democrat leaders are hankering for a showdown to secure a six-year reauthorization bill. A confrontation may occur with Republicans who prefer another patch.
June 5, 2015, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Democrats are threatening an aggressive confrontation with Republicans over federal highway money, foreshadowing yet another round of brinkmanship with the GOP and raising the specter of a temporary shutdown of transportation construction sites nationwide," write Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle, congressional and transportation reporters, respectively, for Politico.

The Democrat battle plan would be to not allow patches greater than 30 days, forcing "Republicans to stumble through a series of painful short-term highway extensions if they don’t fix the program’s long-term funding woes," they write. "Still, the strategy could also blow up in Democrats’ faces, as the GOP is sure to paint them as obstructionists, particularly if a shutdown comes to pass in July."

A 30-day patch requires finding $2 billion. The Republican transportation funding game plan is increasingly looking like finding "$11 billion in new revenue just to get to the end of the year." However, some Republicans want to find $15 billion a year for six years to fund MAP-21 Reauthorization at $50 billion in annual spending.

The most likely loser in this partisan confrontation will be transportation projects dependent on federal transportation funding. "Seven state DOTs have canceled or delayed construction projects worth more than $1.6 billion this year according to a tally kept by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association," write Everett and Caygle. 

"With Republicans overseeing highway funding in both chambers of Congress for the first time in more than eight years, their vows to govern responsibly are about to be tested," conclude Everett and Caygle. "And no one expects the Democrats to be particularly helpful."

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Published on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 in Politico
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