Has the stupor worn off yet? Election Day was last Tuesday, and we’ll be living with the results for years. But Beth Osborne, a former Hill staffer and U.S. DOT official now at Transportation for America, says the changes on the Hill are no big deal: Nothing was getting done anyway.
So Beth, Jeff, and I examine the prospects for a new transportation bill. The next bill is due in May, and a Republican House and a Republican Senate will draft it. Will lawmakers suggest that the Highway Trust Fund should just be used for highways? Of course they will! But the conversation won’t end there.
Does a long-term bill have a shot in this Congress? Even short-term extensions of the current transportation bill aren’t as easy as they used to be, but that could actually make the politics of a long-term bill a little easier to manage. And while some people blame the end of earmarks for the difficulty passing a bill (you can’t buy votes with pork anymore), Beth makes the point that you can’t very well turn a transportation bill into a Christmas tree for every member of Congress when there’s absolutely no money.
We don’t have a crystal ball, but here’s everything you need to know to make an educated guess about how the next six months will play out — this, and our coverage of the ballot initiatives, governors’ races, Senate leadership shakeup, and the new top transportation Democrat in the House.