Who Still Likes the House Transpo Bill? Big Oil, Big Truck, and Big Box Retail

The House has finished marking up its transportation bill in what shaped up to be a very Groundhog Day-esque ordeal of unending, repetitive partisan theater (if you missed it, follow coverage on twitter).

Spoiler alert. Photo: ##http://image.truckinweb.com/f/8122697+w750+st0/0601tr_03_z+truck_fuel_economy_tips+oil_rig_pump.jpg##TruckinWeb##

The centerpiece was yesterday’s/last night’s/this morning’s Transportation & Infrastructure committee markup, where members debated more than 80 amendments for over 18 hours before finally approving Chairman Mica’s bill, 29-24, at about 3:00 a.m. Not one Democrat voted for it, and only one Republican — Tom Petri of Wisconsin — voted against it. Energy and Financing titles were also approved by their respective committees.

Streetsblog has already pointed out that there’s plenty to dislike in the bill, especially for pedestrians, cyclists, city-dwellers, transit riders, and the environmentally-conscious. But believe it or not, there are a few groups out there who still like this bill a whole lot. In fact, at today’s markup in the Ways and Means Committee, Chairman Dave Camp submitted for the record a letter of support from over 50 organizations.

It’s worth noting that the list of supporters is getting smaller. The T&I bill may have enjoyed the support of AASHTO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but both have now opposed the Ways & Means committee’s financing title. In fact, over 600 organizations have voiced their opposition to that particular bill. However, there are still some hold-outs.

For starters, there’s trucking. Bill Graves, the American Trucking Associations’ CEO, called the bill “a major step forward, not just for trucking, but for all users of our transportation system.” Graves was disappointed when new rules allowing longer, heavier trucks were put off pending further study, saying, “We hope that Congress will see that wasting taxpayer money on further study is not necessary and as this legislation moves forward, enacts these long overdue reforms.”

Then there’s the retail sector. David French, the National Retail Federation’s VP for Government Relations, has said, “Our neglected transportation system has created bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the supply chain that stifle U.S. companies’ ability to grow.” Those “inefficencies” could refer to the same regulations the trucking industry is excited about. But bigger trucks (and longer driver hours, another pet issue of the trucking industry) would mainly benefit the largest shippers — the WalMarts, Home Depots and Best Buys.

And then there is oil industry, who would be able to drill far more freely in Alaska and off the American coast. Speaker Boehner’s inclusion of the Keystone XL pipeline makes the bill even more appealing to the petroleum industry. American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard believes that most Americans “know America will need more oil. They see the benefits of importing more from Canada while also producing more at home… [Keystone XL] is essential to our nation’s energy future.”

So, more drilling (oil companies make money) and lax regulations (trucking industry makes money) mean slightly lower shipping costs (mega-retailers make money). Big Oil, Big Truck, and Big Box — whose business models each depend on wider highways and sprawl — are the major beneficiaries of this bill.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Election Reveals Who Will Shape the Next Transportation Bill

|
Yesterday’s election made history on many different fronts: gay marriage, immigration, consumer protection, and more. But America also voted to maintain essentially the same balance of power in Washington that has brought about so much gridlock. In the transportation arena, that gridlock meant three years of dithering on a national bill and, ultimately, a new law […]

House Transportation Bill Officially Drops, Lands With a Thud

|
John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, officially unveiled his committee’s transportation bill, the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act,” at a press conference outside the House wing of the Capitol this afternoon. (All 846 pages of bill text are here: [PDF]) Streetsblog wrote about some of the bill’s low points last […]

House Speaker John Boehner Will Delay Vote on House Transpo Bill

|
First, John Boehner split his transportation bill into three smaller bills that deal with transportation, oil and gas drilling, and government employee pensions separately. Now, it looks like the transportation component won’t be voted on until after the President’s Day recess, according to Politico: Boehner’s office attributed the decision to two factors: One of the […]

Transpo Bills Delayed in House and Senate as Congress Enters Recess

|
Both houses of Congress are in recess this week, putting off their mountain of unfinished transportation business until next Monday. The momentum carrying transportation bills forward in each chamber has eroded recently. Last week, the House split its transportation bill — the one that eliminates dedicated funding for transit, bicycling, and walking — into three […]

Obama Takes a Stand, Threatens to Veto House Transpo Bill

|
The White House issued a statement yesterday that spelled out President Obama’s opposition to the House transportation bill, also known as H.R. 7. The administration’s statement of policy, which coincided with the House Rules Committee hearing on H.R. 7, takes a stand in defense of transit, safety, and the environment: H.R. 7 does not reflect […]