Voinovich Secures Dem Promise to Hold a Senate Vote on Transpo in 2010

Compelling infrastructure news out of the Senate last night: The long-delayed successor to the 2005 federal transportation law could come to a vote sooner than the spring 2011 timetable sought by the Obama administration, thanks to a promise secured by Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) in exchange for his vote in favor of the Democratic jobs bill.

Voinovich_to_bow_out_at_end_of_term.jpgSen. George Voinovich (R-OH) (Photo: UPI)

Voinovich joined four other GOP senators, including newly elected Scott Brown (R-MA), in voting with Democrats to end debate on a $15 billion jobs bill that transfers $20 billion to the nation’s highway trust fund, keeping it solvent until the end of 2010.

But in a statement released just after his vote, Voinovich explained that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made a commitment in exchange for the Ohioan’s support:

I spoke to Majority Leader Reid
prior to this vote and he assured me that he understands the importance
of a surface transportation reauthorization bill. I reiterated that it is the best way to create jobs,
provide an immediate stimulus to the economy, rebuild our nation’s
infrastructure and reduce our carbon footprint.

Leader Reid gave me his
commitment that he will bring the reauthorization of a multi-year
surface transportation bill to the floor for a vote this year. I look
forward to working with Senator Reid, [Senate environment committee chairman Barbara] Boxer [D-CA] and others to do so
as soon as possible so we can put Americans back to work.

Voinovich’s statement — which he passed out paper copies of to reporters after last night’s vote, according to the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim — tracks with Boxer’s comments at a Los Angeles town meeting on Friday, when she vowed to advance her version of a new long-term federal transport bill before the end of the year.

Setting the end of 2010 as the new timetable for a Senate vote on transportation policy would effectively commit Democrats to agreeing on a source of funding that would offset new six-year legislation in the range of $450 billion to $500 billion.

House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) has estimated that about $140 billion in new revenue would be needed to close the gap between anticipated federal gas-tax revenue and the price tag of replacing the 2005 transport law with a new bill.

Could the answer to the Democrats’ transportation financing conundrum be a post-election session (often dubbed a "lame-duck") after this November’s midterms?

  • This is good news — but I’m a bit confused. I was under the impression that the bill that passed yesterday did not include the highway trust fund transfer but rather that that component would come later, in a separate vote. After all, how could a $15 billion bill include $20 billion for transportation? The math there doesn’t add up.

    The highway transfer was included in the $80 billion draft bill that was discussed a few weeks ago, but this is a different bill, as far as I can tell.

  • Yonah — The highway trust fund transfer is in this bill as well, but it was not scored as adding to the deficit (and thus, the measure’s overall cost). Check out this link for more: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2010/02/11/bipartisan-senate-jobs-bill-has-highway-trust-fund-rescue-but-no-tiger/#comment-134271
    This link offers an explanation of the history behind the clever accounting tweak that’s at work here:
    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2009/06/23/flashback-does-the-government-owe-transportation-20-billion/

  • Tom

    Basically he traded his vote for a bad bill to garner funds for road construction.

    A few more details … the CBO estimates that this tax break would create anywhere between eight and 18 full-time jobs for every $1 million in tax breaks. This provision in the Senate’s jobs bill is expected to cost about $10 million. So you can do the math … that’s anywhere between 80,000 to 180,000 jobs. Nothing to sneeze at, except if you remember that our economy has lost 8.4 million jobs since the start of the recession.
    Voting like John McCain and selling out the tax payer when we already have enough debt on this country is going to cost a lot of elected officials their jobs come next election.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Lawmakers Cross Party Lines on Transpo Funding as Debate Rages

|
An 18-month extension of existing transportation law cleared the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, but not before spirited debate on a proposal billed as a compromise with House members who remain strongly opposed to the Senate’s stopgap. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman of theSenate environment committee (Photo: Politics Now) The "clean" re-upping of the […]

Voinovich: Business Buy-in Can Get a New Transportation Bill Done

|
George Voinovich (R-OH) may be the only senator who wants to forget about an 18-month extension of existing transportation law and move ahead quickly on broad reform. But that doesn’t mean he’s giving up. Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), rendered by political caricaturist Kerry Waghorn. Getting business interests to work on methods for funding a long-term […]

Voinovich Has a Job-Creation Proposal for the President

|
Before leaving for Asia yesterday, President Obama announced a job creation summit to take place next month and declared himself "open to any demonstrably good idea" to cut the rising unemployment rate. Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) (Photo: UPI) Taking the president at his word, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) fired off a letter today with a […]

Adding More Transportation to the Climate Change Mix

|
…How about this one? (Photo: Wellsy’s World) Is this senator gettable for the climate bill? (Photo: Washington Post) Nate Silver’s new analysis of the state of play on climate change in the Senate makes a convincing argument that a carbon cap-and-trade system can become law this year. In fact, it raises the question of whether […]

Senate Democrats Poke Holes in GOP’s Climate Change ‘Boycott’

|
Republicans on the Senate environment committee made good on their vow to boycott this morning’s first meeting on climate change legislation, leaving Democrats to poke holes in the GOP’s insistence on a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis of the bill. Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) visited the environment panel this morning to read a statement […]