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With Too Much Spending, Transportation, Housing Appropriations Bill Passes Subcommittee


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, July 1, 2010 -

With Too Much Spending, Transportation, Housing Appropriations Bill Passes Subcommittee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) today approved funding legislation for the next fiscal year.
 
The THUD bill is the fifth funding bill that the Appropriations subcommittees have approved without a budget or even an overall discretionary spending limit. House Democrats have failed to pass a budget resolution this year for the first time since 1974, but have pushed ahead with these spending bills without informing Members of Congress or the public about the plan for spending for the year or how it will affect the nation’s massive deficits and debt.
 
“This Transportation and Housing bill may not be a bad piece of legislation, without knowing how it will truly affect our nation’s finances, it is impossible to tell. The President has promised a “spending freeze” for next year, but with all the shadowy dealing by Democrat leaders to push through more spending, and without a real budget or even an overall spending limit, it is clear that this promise is little more than politics,” House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis said.
 
“In addition, this bill will bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund by the end of 2012, which will only lead to more bailouts and will put the taxpayer on the hook for even more unsustainable spending,” Lewis said.
 
Lewis and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Latham also expressed concern that the bill spends too much during a time when Congress should be looking for significant cuts to spending. The bill totals $67.4 billion, which is $500 million below the previous year, but last year the legislation contained a whopping 23% increase.
 
“The $500 million reduction in this legislation is a drop in the bucket of where we need to go to bring this bill back into a reasonable state,” Latham said, “We need to reduce the spending in this bill, save the taxpayers a few dollars, and bring some transparency to the bureaucratic operations of these departments.”
 
Republicans offered several amendments to address the concerns regarding spending in the bill and other important items. These amendments included:
 
1.)    Subcommittee Ranking Member Latham (R-IA) offered an amendment to cut approximately $2 billion in spending from the overall cost of the bill.
 
The amendment was defeated by subcommittee Democrats on a vote of 5-8.
 
Subcommittee Chairman Olver (D-MA), Rep. Pastor (D-AZ), Rep. Rodriguez (D-TX), Rep. Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Price (D-NC), Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Berry (D-AR), Rep. Kilpatrick (D-MI), and Chairman Obey (D-WI) all voted to opposed the amendment.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Latham (R-IA),  Rep. Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Carter (R-TX), Rep. LaTourette (R-OH), and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) all voted in favor of the amendment.
2.)    Rep. Carter (R-TX) offered an amendment to require that discretionary funds that do not have a  specific designation in the bill be distributed by formula to the states, and not be distributed by grant programs at the discretion of the Secretary of Transportation.
 
The amendment was defeated by subcommittee Democrats on a vote of 5-8.
 
Subcommittee Chairman Olver (D-MA), Rep. Pastor (D-AZ), Rep. Rodriguez (D-TX), Rep. Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Price (D-NC), Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Berry (D-AR), Rep. Kilpatrick (D-MI), and Chairman Obey (D-WI) all voted to opposed the amendment.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Latham (R-IA), Rep. Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Carter (R-TX), Rep. LaTourette (R-OH), and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) all voted in favor of the amendment.
 
3.)    Rep. LaTourette (R-IA) offered an amendment to require the Department of Transportation to disclose information regarding contacts and applicants for the Department’s TIGER grants. Congress provided $600 million for these grants last year, but DOT has refused to release who has applied from these grants and how the applications fared.
 
The amendment was accepted on a voice vote.
 
4.)    Rep. LaTourette (R-OH) offered an amendment that would allow fuel costs to be considered as “capital maintenance” costs for the federal grant purposes.
 
The amendment was withdrawn.
 
5.)    Rep. LaTourette (R-OH) offered an amendment to move $200 million in funds from accounts into regular budget authority for highway programs. These “sustainability and livability” programs are funded with Highway Trust Fund dollars, but have little to do with road-building or other road activities.
 
The amendment was defeated by subcommittee Democrats on a vote of 5-8.
 
Subcommittee Chairman Olver (D-MA), Rep. Pastor (D-AZ), Rep. Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Price (D-NC), Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Berry (D-AR), Rep. Kilpatrick (D-MI), and Chairman Obey (D-WI) all voted to opposed the amendment.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Latham (R-IA),  Rep. Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Carter (R-TX), Rep. LaTourette (R-OH), and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) all voted in favor of the amendment.
6.)    Rep. LaTourette (R-OH) offered an amendment to prohibit certain Highway Trust Fund dollars from being used to pay for education funding in a pending troop funding and disaster assistance supplemental Appropriations bill.
 
The amendment was defeated by subcommittee Democrats on a vote of 5-8.
 
Subcommittee Chairman Olver (D-MA), Rep. Pastor (D-AZ), Rep. Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Price (D-NC), Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Berry (D-AR), Rep. Kilpatrick (D-MI), and Chairman Obey (D-WI) all voted to opposed the amendment.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Latham (R-IA),  Rep. Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Carter (R-TX), Rep. LaTourette (R-OH), and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) all voted in favor of the amendment.
7.)    Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) offered an amendment to automatically reduce the highway spending in the bill so that Highway Trust Fund will remain solvent until the end of 2012. With the large level of highway spending in the legislation, the CBO estimates the Highway Trust Fund with become bankrupt by 2012, which will spur cost-cutting measures and delay payments to states.
 
The amendment was defeated by subcommittee Democrats on a vote of 5-8.
 
Subcommittee Chairman Olver (D-MA), Rep. Pastor (D-AZ), Rep. Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Price (D-NC), Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Berry (D-AR), Rep. Kilpatrick (D-MI), and Chairman Obey (D-WI) all voted to opposed the amendment.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Latham (R-IA), Rep. Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Carter (R-TX), Rep. LaTourette (R-OH), and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) all voted in favor of the amendment.

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