Live-Blogging the House Transportation Extension Debate & Vote
9:30 AM EDT on March 29, 2012
After a long night's wrangling over the budget, the House convened early (for them) at 9 this morning to tackle a
90-day 60-day 90-day extension of the transportation bill. Despite some fierce opposition from House Democrats who wanted to vote on the bipartisan Senate bill instead of another extension, the measure passed. We're brought you the fireworks as they happened. See below for the gory details.
11:54 Final vote is 266-158.
11:48 90-day extension passed. They're still voting, but they got their 218 votes. They have 245 yeas now, actually, including 26 Democrats. Now it goes to the Senate.
11:46: Time's up but they're still voting. Vote count so far: 205 yeas, 123 nays.
11:31: Reminder: this vote only requires a simple majority, not a 2/3 majority as the previous vote would have needed. That vote was canceled because they couldn't get it. There's a vote on a 60-day extension still scheduled for today in case this doesn't pass.
11:27: Speaker John Boehner is talking to reporters now. Called the Senate bill's pay-fors a "gimmick that will run down the Highway Trust Fund." Says the pay-fors "don't pass the straight-face test."
11:26: Third reading of the bill, voice vote done. "In the opinion of the chair, the no's have it." Moving to a 15-minute recorded vote.
11:22 Mica says they need to call the House physician to the floor of the house because there's a "mass case of loss of memory on the other side." Reminds them that President Obama "cut the knees right out from under the Democrats" when Oberstar tried to pass a long-term bill. "The other side would have been the majority and I would be the ranking member if they had done what they should have done."
11:18: Rahall makes fun of Mica for holding his 23 minutes, says his position doesn't seem very popular, not many Republicans are coming to speak for this extension. Says he'll take some of the time if Mica will yield to him. Mica yields him 30 seconds. Rahall: "Thirty seconds, that's about all we're getting from this extension too."
11:16: Pelosi says the Republican budget would cut transportation by almost half "and, by the way, give a tax break to the wealthiest people."
11:15: Pelosi: The Republicans' own transportation bill is not a good bill but it would at least take us to conference. But they have a bill that even they can't support.
11:12: Nancy Pelosi (Minority Leader, D-CA): Senate bill is bipartisan, it creates jobs, and it should have our support... The American people have a right to know why the Republicans in the Senate, the Democrats in the Senate, the president of the United States all support this bill while the House Republicans are the odd man out. Like the payroll tax cuts in December. This initiative is kick-the-can-down-the-road, "my way or no highway" bill.
11:11 Gerry Connolly (D-VA): Transportation vote today is nothing more than a 3-month band-aid... America needs a real transportation plan. Luckily there is such a plan. The Senate passed it.
11:08: DeFazio says the 90-day extension would mean the states go to 40 or 50 percent reduction in their projects this summer, according to 80-percent-Republican contractors' association. "They're not on our side."
11:07: The Republicans have more than 20 minutes left to speak but Mica keeps holding, wanting to close the session. The Democrats have about seven minutes left and are burning through them. DeFazio is speaking again.
11:04: Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC): The American people will hope we're not on the road to the 30-plus FAA extensions. We don't have to do it this time. The Senate has passed a bipartisan bill... Which is the party which does not believe in compromise?... We should be speeding the recovery instead of clinging to a bill that would kill half a million jobs.
11:02: Bishop: They'll vote for a Republican budget that slashes investment in transportation infrastructure by 46 percent. They talk about certainty? How can we believe they'll give us certainty when they say give us 90 more days and we'll craft a five-year bill, and meanwhile we're going to vote to cut transportation by 46 percent... They're asking for 90 more days but they're going on recess the first two weeks of those 90 days, while construction workers wonder where their next paycheck is coming from.
11:01: Shuster says he disagrees with Rahall's job numbers, says yes we'll spend less but we have to live within our means and it'll create more jobs. Rahall says, "Well bring it up then! Bring up HR7!"
10:57: Russ Carnahan (D-MO) calls on colleagues to reject the extension.
10:57: Rahall reads off to Shuster how many Pennsylvania jobs would be destroyed by HR7.
10:55: Bill Shuster (R-PA): A two-year bill won't create certainty. Or rather, it will create certainty that it will bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund.
10:53: Chair gavels repeatedly, Miller won't stop talking. Miller says, "you should stop gaveling, this is a critical issue for American families." They yell over each other for a while. Shuster: "I wish the gentleman from California had shown that kind of passion two years ago and said the stimulus bill should have been an infrastructure bill."
10:51: George Miller (D-CA) makes a push for the Senate bill to create and maintain jobs. Says losing jobs would be a victory for Republicans in the House, a disaster for working families. Calls it "political cannon fodder to defeat the Obama administration."
10:50: Mica and DeFazio are arguing over who's "playing politics" and who's holding up the bill.
10:48: Mica: I don't think it's appropriate that members of my conference be referred to as "bozos." [DeFazio referred to Republicans who don't believe in federal transportation investment as bozos.]
10:46: DeFazio: The Secretary called the House bill the worst transportation bill in history -- and by the way, the Secretary is a Republican... We have the opportunity to take up a two-year bill and provide certainty and create construction jobs... And they're so dyspeptic on their side they're still debating whether the federal government should be involved in transportation. We settled that debate with Dwight David Eisenhower.
10:42: John Duncan (R-TN): This extension will allow work to go forward as the spring construction season begins. If it doesn't, it'll cost the Highway Trust Fund $1 billion.
10:41: John Mica, Chair (R-FL): The fact is the Democrats had six amendments. When they controlled the House, the Senate, the White House -- they couldn't even get it to committee.
10:32: The rule passed.
10:20: Time's up but they're still voting.
10:07: House is still voting. It's a 15-minute vote.
10:03: The ayes have it in a voice vote, McGovern asked for a recorded vote. This is just a vote on the rule.
10:02: Daniel Webster (R-FL): This brief extension gives us the opportunity to one again bring both sides to the table to work out a collaborative solution. And this is our last chance to do that before the previous authorization expires Saturday night.
9:58: McGovern: I propose that immediately after voting on this extension we vote on HR14... Barbara Boxer and Jim Inhofe, two polar opposites, came together. And we can't come together. We're bringing the most inconsequential piece of legislation to the House floor... This Congress that claims to be open won't even allow a vote on HR14.
9:55: Rahall: The extension the majority is bringing is too long and will do nothing but continue the uncertainty states and businesses have faced for the last two and a half years.
9:53 Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX): This party won't allow us to vote for a bill that has already passed the Senate... Buy America, do I love it... in Houston, Texas, we need those monies [for transit].
9:49: Peter DeFazio (D-OR): There is a substantial portion of the Republican caucus that believes there is no federal interest -- we should not have a national transportation policy. It should be devolved to states. Well that's what this looks like when you devolve to the states. Kansas turf fight, 1956. Oklahoma says they'd build their section, they didn't. They were launching cars into Amos Schweitzer's cornfield for the next eight years.
9:48: McGovern: The Senate bill sustains 1.9 million jobs, the House bill kills 550,000 jobs. The bill you brought to the floor and then yanked is a jobs killer.
9:46: Nick Rahall, Democratic Ranking Member (WV): Even if it's a resolution that says "I Love Mother" it's hard to get 60 votes in the Senate for anything -- and they got 74 votes!
9:44: Tim Bishop (D-NY) [who introduced the Senate bill in the House]: Here we are taking up the third version of the Republican "kick-the-can" infrastructure plan in a week. The third in a week! If that's not a failure of leadership I don't know what is.
9:37: McGovern: I'd like to thank my colleague for making a very strong case for why we should reject a 90-day extension and pass a two-year extension... Let's get real here, as reflected in the budget you're all going to vote for later this afternoon, which decimates highway and bridge funding, you're not here trying to argue for a better bill. You're here trying to give states less, to give cities and towns less... That's what this is all about, about trying to come up with something even lousier than the transportation bill you brought to the House floor.
9:35: Rich Nugent (R-FL): For [the industry] to spend money to hire new workers, they need to have some certainty to build upon -- not a six-month fix, not an 18-month fix, not a two-year fix...
9:29: Earl Blumenauer (D-OR): We don't have to play this infrastructure "chicken"... The Republicans are afraid that dozens of their members will join us in a bipartisan vote [on the Senate bill]... The House bill was so bad they wouldn't even have a hearing on it... This is embarrassing that the process is not working... The best approach is to vote on the Senate bill today, which I'm convinced will pass, and that's why they don't want to vote on it.
9:27: James McGovern (D-MA): You have this battle within the Republican party. The right wing is battling the extreme right wing... You have people who don't believe in a public sector.
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