Senators continue policy games with transportation funding bill as July 31 deadline looms

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) highlighting just a few of the associations supporting the DRIVE Act.Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) highlighting just a few of the associations supporting the DRIVE Act.

While the Senate’s DRIVE Act, H.R. 22, is being lauded for the potential it brings for the first long-term transportation funding option in years, it is now being used as a political pawn with attached amendments.

The bill would provide three years of guaranteed funding for the Highway Trust Fund.

This is nothing new in Washington, but two pawns used recently included amendments to reauthorize and reform the Export-Import Bank and to repeal the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. Obamacare.

The Export-Import Bank amendment passed a cloture vote Sunday of 67-26, while the ACA repeal effort did not have enough of a majority (49-43) in its cloture vote.

But these efforts could be moot, as the House is unlikely to vote on the bill, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California).

In a report by The Hill, McCarthy said the House would not vote on the bill and plans to go into its August recess on July 30, one day before the current transportation funding extension expires.

The House has already passed an extension that would carry on transportation funding until nearly the end of the year. McCarthy said that effort is currently the “best option”.

Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Barbara Boxer (D-California), who serve on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, have been complementary of each other in agreeing on the bill despite their opposing political stances.

Inhofe and Boxer have both stated that there is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road or bridge and that political party views should be removed from the funding issue.

“This should be blind to partisan politics,” Inhofe said. Boxer wants the chamber to “keep our eye on what the prize is.”

“Let’s say yes together,” she said. “Let’s deliver this for the American people.”