In its annual “Views and Estimates” document [PDF], the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee indicates that when it comes to transportation policy, despite a few nods to transit, House Republicans still want to cut spending and let highway-centric state DOTs sort out the details. While the House transportation bill could be on its last legs, the document shows that the House GOP hasn’t given up on its quest to eliminate street safety programs for walking and biking while giving a free hand to states to build more sprawl projects.
The T&I Committee submits this document each year to help shape the Budget Committee’s spending priorities. On the positive side of the ledger this time around, the committee prominently mentions strategic planning and intermodalism (in addition to familiar favorites like consolidation and cost-cutting) as primary goals. Committee Republicans also assert that the government’s pledge to spend Highway Trust Fund receipts on their intended use has been upheld. That affirmation flies in the face of the argument, often made by conservatives and road-gangers — including members of the T&I Committee — that funding transit out of that fund constitutes a violation of that contract.
And the committee states its opposition to the underfunding of transportation programs “under the guise of ‘budget reform’” – something they threw their full weight behind last summer, when they introduced a bill that would have hacked deeply into all facets of the program, cutting 30 percent across the board.
Elsewhere in the document are countless signs that House Republicans are sticking to their more ill-conceived policy ideas, as laid out in their multi-year transportation bill, H.R. 7. That bill differs dramatically from President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal, and the Views and Estimates document carefully notes each of those differences. Of course, H.R. 7 is on life support right now, so the Views and Estimates are best seen as the GOP fantasy of how to shape transportation policy.
T&I members, for their part, say that the president is living in a fantasy world too, when he asserts that his budget proposal is paid for with war savings. “The reduction in overseas military operations is the result of policy decisions that have already been made,” they say in the document. “The administration’s surface transportation reauthorization proposal would not achieve any additional savings.”