Senate Unlikely to Challenge House Cuts to MAP-21 Budget

If you were hoping the Senate would swoop in and save the day after the House voted to cut $785 million from the transportation budget, you might be disappointed. Politico’s Burgess Everett reports that Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) isn’t planning to present an alternative transportation budget proposal. Mikulski is considering rolling several appropriations bills into a “hybrid” continuing resolution bill, but transportation isn’t one of them.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski isn't planning to introduce a transportation budget to compete with the one the House passed.

Why not include transportation in her CR? Sounds like she thought transportation was just too controversial. “Some people in the House don’t like bills that help transportation, some don’t like high speed rails, some don’t like a lot of things,” she told Politico. So what are the non-controversial items she’s planning to work on? “Agriculture, commerce-justice-science, homeland security, defense and military construction,” says Everett.

Meanwhile, Everett also reports that House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Tom Latham (R-IA) is trying to make sure the Democrats don’t try any funny stuff. Since Congress can never agree on a budget anymore, they keep passing the previous year’s budget and agreeing not to make too many changes, because arguments over the changes will gum up the works.

Of course, the Republicans just made a change not just to the previous year’s budget but to the delicate compromise of the transportation bill. But if the Democrats try to just start fresh and pass a real budget for the rest of FY 2013, Latham has a poison pill in store for them: another ban on funding California high-speed rail. No matter: as Everett reports, “California doesn’t need any money for two years and was unlikely to get any federal help in the last six months of this year anyway.”

In any event, no one seems to have much appetite for a real budget fight anyway. They fight enough over these “easy” CRs.