Editorial: Bipartisanship in Senate moves transportation bill
BY World's Editorials Writers
Friday, March 16, 2012
3/16/12 at 4:25 AM
With rare bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed a much-needed and much-delayed national transportation bill that could create jobs and fund road projects.
Spearheaded by Oklahoma's Republican senior senator, Jim Inhofe, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the Senate voted 74-22 to authorize the $109 billion program. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., voted against the measure.
It is not a permanent fix, but it will keep transportation projects across the country, many of which have been deferred for years, moving for two more years.
Inhofe and Boxer, who are far apart politically, deserve a lot of credit. Inhofe has often spoken of their friendship and their ability to work well together. That bond paid off.
Inhofe believes the bill could create as many as 45,000 jobs in Oklahoma alone. Under the Boxer-Inhofe bill, the state would receive an average of almost $650 million a year, which translates into $1.38 for every $1 that Oklahoma pays in federal gasoline taxes.
Not only would this bill make further funding available for mass transit and bridge and road projects, but it also would dedicate 80 percent of the penalties paid by BP for the Gulf oil spill to environmental restoration in the Gulf of Mexico.
The bill must now pass muster in the House, where bipartisanship is not expected. A transportation bill there is heavier on funding, $260 billion, and longer-lived, five years, but has had no traction.
House Speaker John Boehner has called for the House to either take action on its bill or close it. That could clear the House to consider the Senate bill.
The country's infrastructure has been ignored for too long and is in dire straits. This is an important and necessary extension of the transportation bill. It will make needed improvements to our transportation infrastructure. And, just as important, it is a real job-creator.
Members of Oklahoma's House delegation should get on board and help pass the Boxer-Inhofe bill as quickly as possible.
Original Print Headline: On the move