Civic Lessons

Watching the reauthorization wheels go round and round remains one of the most frustrating occupations in our industry.

The Senate Bill creeps ahead after some extraneous amendments have been hurdled. The House Republicans are now looking at a heavily reworked bill, and one that seems to have as much support as the pre-worked bill. Instead of five years they are apparently looking at a year and a half to two years, with less money per year than the five year bill. They have put back the transit funding provisions they took out to such disastrous response from urban Republicans but haven’t done enough to get adequate support.

There may be upsides to a shorter, poorer bill. At least reforms would be in there and part of legislation, something that won;t happen if we keep rolling down Extension Road. And at least dome degree of longer term planning could happen in the states.And by 2014 maybe we have a Congress that can renew and upgrade the bill without 435 extensions.

But the same infuriating problem remains: no one in the House seems to be prepared to do the right thing. Because the right thing is not politically expedient.

If Barbara Boxer and Jim Inhofe, a died-in-the-wool Democrat and an extremely conservative Republican, can work together in the Senate, apparently (and there seems to be no other explanation) because it benefits the country on a vital issue that should be (and traditionally has been) above polarizing politics, surely some of their lesser colleagues can too.

I can’t help wondering how middle school teachers explain the House members work in this bill in the civics classes.I would anticipate students asking some penetratingly obvious questions.