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.
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).