Today the Senate will vote on two transportation jobs bills, and neither will get the required 60 votes to pass. The Democratic version will fail because Republicans oppose the financing mechanism of surcharge on millionaire’s income. The Republican version (a two-year extension of SAFETEA-LU, with regulatory reforms added in) will fail in part because Democrats will oppose many of the proposed policy and regulatory changes.
What happens next? Both parties retreat to their corners, blame the other party for the lack of progress. Meanwhile, roads and bridges continue to deteriorate, people are injured and killed on highways needing safety improvements, aging buses and vans need to be replaced, construction workers continue to draw unemployment benefits. Attention will shift to the Senate EPW Committee’s scheduled November 9 action on the draft highways section of a surface transportation bill.
President Obama and USDOT may act in spite of the Senate’s deadlock. Obama announced Wednesday he “will use his authority to expedite loans and competitive grants for new infrastructure projects around the country” if the Senate fails to pass his infrastructure bill.