Bunning Throws in the Towel, Congress Restores Transport Funding

Workers at the U.S. DOT and on transportation projects around the country are back on the job today after Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) lost his politically hazardous battle against a 30-day extension of federal infrastructure law and unemployment benefits.

art.bunning.gi.pngSen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) (Photo: CNN)

But while Republicans sought to distance themselves from Bunning’s five-day stand against the $10 billion measure, sending Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) yesterday to ask the Kentuckian to yield, 18 of Bunning’s fellow GOP senators ultimately voted with him to continue withholding federal transport funding unless its cost was offset by budget cuts elsewhere.

The extension passed on a 78-19 vote. Four members of Republican leadership voted with Bunning: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (TN), Conference Vice Chairman John Thune (SD), and campaign committee chief John Cornyn (TX).

"This week we saw the shutdown of
many important highway and bridge projects, which caused great concern in many
of our states," Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said in a statement after the vote. "Now I look forward to a longer-term transportation
extension with the legislation that has already passed the Senate, and which I
believe will pass the House this week."

The legislation Boxer referred to, a $15 billion bill that would keep the nation’s highway trust fund solvent until 2011, could get a vote in the House this week. But much depends on how Democratic leaders act to ease the objections of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who want to see more infrastructure spending added to the Senate package, and the Blue Dogs, who have called for more revenue offsets to the bill.

  • One thing this Bunning episode has shown is that the U.S. Senate now is now indistinguishable from a New York City Community Board — a bunch of cranky elderly people with lifetime job security, extreme parochial interests, and the power only to delay, obstruct and say no.

    Word has it Alvin Berk is angling to appoint Jim Bunning chair of the transportation committee at Brooklyn CB 14.

  • Alvin Berk

    “A bunch of cranky elderly people with lifetime job security, extreme parochial interests, and the power only to delay, obstruct and say no?”

    Thanks for flattering our survival skills and for watching us carefully enough to conclude that we’re “cranky,” (I presume you’re not talking about my Cannondale). We also appreciate that you’ve granted us lifetime tenure in our volunteer jobs, and have correctly noted that we try to defend the interests of the majority of our community’s residents. Finally, thanks for thinking that we have enough power to delay, obstruct, and say no to any initiatives that adversely affect the health or safety of those residents.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have the power you impute to us, but we’re trying.

    BTW, before I can appoint Jim Bunning as CB 14 transportation committee chair, the other Marty has to appoint him to our community board.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Federal Transportation Law Expired Over the Weekend: What’s Next?

|
A new month begins today without rules in place to govern federal transportation programs, thanks to an objection by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) to quick approval of a short-term extension of existing law. The Natchez Trace Parkway, where trail construction is set to stall today thanks to inaction on federal transport law. (Photo: TheFunTimesGuide.com) The […]
STREETSBLOG USA

Senate GOP Continues to Resist Sanctions-Based Distracted Driving Rules

|
The Senate environment committee’s senior Republican yesterday joined his counterpart on the commerce panel in criticizing legislation that would withhold federal highway funding from states that fail to crack down on distracted driving, casting doubt on Congress’ ability to approve any punitive approach to reining in texting and cell phone use by drivers. (Photo: SCnow.com) […]

Oberstar Stands Firm on Transportation Bill, Gets Industry Backup

|
In case any doubts remained about his willingness to challenge the White House and the Senate on prompt passage of a long-term infrastructure bill, House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar’s (D-MN) op-ed in the Politico Monday should clear them up: House transport committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN). Photo: Capitol Chatter Unfortunately, the administration and some […]