With more and more Republicans coming out against provisions of the House transportation bill, the GOP leadership has opted to split their massive bill into three parts to be debated and voted on separately, Politico reports. The thinking, as Larry Ehl writes, is that members will be allowed “to go on record voting ‘yes’ on sections they strongly support, and ‘no’ on sections they strongly oppose.” One bill would deal with transportation reauthorization (including the Ways & Means Committee’s transit “fix”), one with energy production, and one with federal pension reform (yes, all of that was included in the same bill until today).
Such a move would mark a strange turn for the House transportation bill, which started as an infrastructure spending bill with vague revenue sources and ended up as a bill that opened up vast areas for drilling and eliminated dedicated funding for transit and bike/ped programs.
David Goldston, government affairs director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told reporters today that “clearly, the Republicans thought they didn’t have the votes as a whole package,” hence the decision to split it up. Presumably they will try to combine the pieces again later on. “Whether even with this gambit they’ll have the votes to move it along is anybody’s guess,” Goldston said.
The House Rules Committee will meet tonight at 5:00 p.m. on the bill, and will decide how the bill will be divided. They will also need to deal with the over 300 amendments that had already been proposed to H.R. 7 in its current form.