Sen. Boxer: Working With Mica, Inhofe on a Long-Term Transpo Bill

Senator Barbara Boxer told reporters today that she had an “excellent”, “wonderful” meeting with Rep. John Mica (R-FL), the new chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. She confirmed that they’re working on a “longer-term” transportation bill and have come up with many points of agreement. We’ll let you know more details about that meeting as we get them.

Photo from ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/senatorboxer/##Barbara Boxer's flickr page##
Photo from ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/senatorboxer/##Barbara Boxer's flickr page##

But she also said that the future of any transportation bill is in jeopardy now that the House has passed a new rule allowing money to languish in the highway trust fund instead of being spent on urgent infrastructure projects. The Republicans want to keep that money in the bank in the name of deficit reduction.

Boxer made it clear that if there’s no mandate to spend the money in the highway trust fund, “there is no highway trust fund.” She called the fund “sacrosanct” and made it clear that the new rule makes it far more difficult to craft a serious transportation bill, since financing will no longer be guaranteed. “If the Republicans plan to raid this fund,” she said, “then all of our plans to do more, to do it right, to do it better – even to do as much as we’ve done before – are thrown aside.”

She said the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will be holding its first hearing on the transportation bill January 26. The hearing isn’t on the committee’s website yet, but it’s on our calendar now. She reaffirmed that she and Senator James Inhofe, the top Republican on her committee, see eye to eye on infrastructure (though they don’t quite agree on climate science). “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to be a unified force,” she said.

She called the press conference to affirm that the EPW Committee, which she chairs, will continue working to protect the environment – specifically, against attacks on environmental regulation. She railed against Rep. Fred Upton’s recent statement, “We are not going to let this administration regulate what they’ve been unable to legislate,” referring to the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases as any other pollutant.

Boxer made it clear that not only does clean air legislation require such regulation, the Supreme Court has mandated it. Even the auto industry supports it: Boxer pointed out that the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers favors EPA regulation of carbon and raising fuel economy standards.

As for a climate bill, Boxer said one would surface when it has the votes. Even with a stronger Democratic majority in the Senate, they could never muster more than 54 votes for it – not enough to overcome a filibuster.

So does that mean Sen. Boxer is in favor of the new proposal to reform the filibuster rule so that not every piece of important legislation stalls without a 60-vote super-majority? She does indeed. Expect to see her listed as a co-sponsor soon.

  • Does Inhofe support greater investment in transit and ped/bike improvements?

  • Of course not Alon 🙂 Although now that OK City has a streetcar plan moving forward maybe he’ll get in on the action. Unlikely.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Road and Transit Groups Join Boxer to Push for Senate Jobs Bill

|
Representatives from Washington’s road and transit lobbies joined Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today to call for swift passage of job-creation legislation that is slated for a vote in the upper chamber of Congress on Monday. Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: AP) Faced with the prospects of a GOP filibuster, […]

Boxer and Inhofe Make Their Offer to the House, Try to Avoid 10th Extension

|
The time-and-venue change for Sen. Barbara Boxer’s press conference earlier today was apparently due to the fact that she was taking care of critical business: hand-delivering the Senate’s latest offer to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Chair John Mica (R-FL) wasn’t there to personally receive the document, which EPW Ranking Member James Inhofe joined Boxer […]

Boxer: Two-Year Transpo Bill Will Save 600,000 Jobs

|
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, says a transportation reauthorization bill needs to be passed soon in order to avoid the loss of 600,000 jobs in the construction and transit industries. She issued a call to action this morning, pushing for a new bill before the current extension of […]