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Posts from the "Orrin Hatch" Category

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Another GOP Transportation Proposal That’s Really All About Oil Drilling

Democrats in the Senate Finance Committee have been working to find $12 billion to fund the transportation bill for the next two years. All their proposals have met with rejection from the committee’s Republicans. Here’s why: The Republicans have been holding out for a funding mix that would include their favorite Christmas presents — oil drilling and attacks on conservation.

Orrin Hatch, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has some ideas about how to fund the transportation bill. Photo: Mediaite

Seven of the 11 GOP members of the Finance Committee sent a letter to Chair Max Baucus late last week with their suggestions. Here they are:

  • $3.5 billion rescission from the Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing Loan Program
  • $3 billion transfer from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund
  • reclaiming $2.5 billion in transfers over the next 10 years from the Highway Trust Fund to the Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • expanded oil and gas production in Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf ($5.2 billion over 10 years)
  • rescission of other unspent federal funds

The GOP members say the first three rescissions wouldn’t be felt much, especially for the programs that routinely bring in more than they spend out.

And then, of course, there’s the oil drilling. They’ve been trying to sneak Alaska oil drilling into just about everything these days, it seems — and here it is, showing up in this proposal to find $12 billion. Despite the fact that it could take years to earn a dime from oil drilling, the GOP acts like it’s the money spigot for everything the government wants to spend — if only the Democrats would stop being so sanctimonious about caribou babies.

So there you have it: spending cuts and oil drilling, the cure for all that ails the country (and, in this case, the solution for the transportation funding shortfall).

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Senator Takes Hybrid Hummer on a Semi-Wild Ride

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has a knack for puncturing Capitol Hill's bubble of obliviousness. His classics include the spotting of Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) leaving an event that protested high gas prices in an 18-miles-per-gallon car -- for the one-block trip back to her office.

In his latest dispatch, Milbank takes on the hybrid Hummer H3, a new model produced by Raser Technologies of Provo, Utah, that claims to get 100 miles to a gallon of gas. Raser's home-state senator, Orrin Hatch (R), climbed behind the wheel of one of the monstrous "green" vehicles yesterday, with less-than-stellar results:

Orrin_Hatch_1.jpgSen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had fun with a hybrid Hummer. (Photo: UPI)

With a whine and a lurch, the Hummer began to accelerate, and for a few terrifying moments, Hatch was in control of the bright-red 5,000-pound truck. Well, not entirely in control. "All I've got to do is smash that car, I'll tell ya," he said of a vehicle in his path. The questions he asked were unsettling: "Squeeze that button? ... Do I park it this way? ... I'm going to miss the curb? ... Is there a reverse?"

Spotting a Capitol Police car, he speculated, "They're probably looking at me." Eyeing some photographers near the car, Hatch allowed that he was "a little bit concerned" for their safety. When one got too close, Hatch muttered: "That guy's really got some guts to stand there."

Hilariously, Hatch's home-state newspaper had a much kinder interpretation of the affair. The Salt Lake Tribune described the senator as "carefully avoiding a troupe of photographers and reporters" as he steered the hybrid H3, which uses a 40-kwh battery pack that weighs 600 pounds on its own.

Leaving aside the frightening thought of a hulking military-style vehicle being repackaged as "green" -- for the bargain price of $50,000 -- the hybrid H3's claim to 100-mpg status is pretty misleading.

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