House Pulls Its Disastrous Transpo Spending Bill As Senate Moves Ahead

While the Senate continues to consider amendments to its transportation budget bill, expected to pass this week, House leadership has canceled a vote on its own version. The bill, which passed the full Appropriations Committee a month ago, was scheduled to hit the floor this week for a vote by the entire House.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says they don't have the time for a transportation vote before recess. Does he really mean they don't have the votes? Photo: Dennis Brack/Newscom via TPM

A spokesperson from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office said the schedule was too busy this week with more pressing items they want to bring to the floor before the August recess begins. He said the House would consider the THUD appropriations bill once they return. The bill provides a budget for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins September 30.

House Democrats unanimously voted against the bill in committee, calling it “grossly inadequate” and even suggesting that it forebodes “the twilight of the appropriations process.” It cuts 2013 spending levels by 15 percent, eliminates TIGER and high-speed rail funding, cuts Amtrak’s subsidy by a third, and slashes HUD’s Community Development Block Grants program.

Scheduling might not be the only problem, however. Six Republicans in the Senate voted with Democrats on that chamber’s bill, which includes $10 billion more in spending than the starvation-diet House bill, including funding boosts for some of the programs eviscerated by the House plan.

“I always expected they would have vote problems on this,” a Democratic aide told The Hill. Politico reporter Anna Palmer said on Twitter that rumor had it the Republicans didn’t have the votes to pass the bill. “Rough way to go out for August recess,” she said.

Immediately after hearing that the Republicans had pulled the bill, Nancy Pelosi’s office sent out an email with the subject line, “Will House GOP Leave Town with a T-HUD or a Whimper?” She said the Republicans were embarrassing themselves and should “stop trying to placate the Tea Party and other warring factions in their conference.”

Though the House may do as Cantor says and vote on the bill in September, the conventional wisdom is that a continuing resolution will be necessary anyway, since the House and Senate bills are so disparate that a compromise is nearly impossible before the September 30 deadline. That’s not such bad news — a CR freezes current spending levels in place, which includes funding for TIGER and would avoid some of the House’s harshest cuts.