Last week, when House Speaker John Boehner indicated his willingness to bring up the Senate transportation bill, it seemed like an admission of defeat for the brazenly partisan approach and insanely destructive policies the Republicans have been promoting. But it’s not over yet.
Check out the nuances of Boehner’s statement, quoted in The Hill last Thursday:
“As I told the members yesterday, the current plan is to see what the Senate can produce and to bring their bill up,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly news conference Thursday.
“In the meantime, we’re going to continue to have conversations with our members about a longer term approach, which frankly most of our members want. But at this point in time, the plan is to bring up the Senate bill – or something like it.”
House members are away from the Capitol this week on recess, but this is when the GOP leadership is having those “conversations.” And when Boehner said he’ll be discussing a “longer term approach,” what he means is a bill that gives short shrift to transit, biking, and walking so the House can squeeze out more money for highways — and hence more years of spending for their bill.
The GOP bill has too much oil drilling to win votes from the Democratic side of the aisle. But if leadership can buy time to convince enough hesitant Republicans that they’re better off supporting Boehner’s bill than the bipartisan Senate bill, they could yet gather together enough votes to set up a showdown with the Senate.
So if you want to protect policies that invest in transit and safe streets, this is no time to rest on your laurels. Even with the House in recess, advocates are gearing up for a last push this week to make sure the bill is really, truly dead.