Congress has dodged yet another self-created catastrophe by kicking the highway funding issue a little ways – wait for it – down the road.
Pardon the pun, but it’s becoming difficult to take anything Congress does with the appropriate degree of seriousness these days.
But the Highway Trust Fund was about to run out of money during the height of the construction season, and that would be no laughing matter. The economy, public safety and the average driver’s pocketbook all would have suffered.
As bridges and roadways crumbled, hundreds of thousands of construction workers would have been idled and our average yearly auto repair bills might have gone up by several hundred dollars.
Voting through a new highway-funding plan would seem to be a no-brainer. But to this Congress, meeting even obvious bipartisan needs is obviously impossible.
An overwhelming majority of congressmen summoned the minimal common sense to pass an interim bill, though, that provides funding through next May. The vote was 367-55.
Just one thing, though. Among the 45 Republicans and 10 Democrats who voted “nay” was northeast Indiana’s own Rep. Marlin Stutzman.
Stutzman explained his reasoning in an email sent from his office Wednesday:
“As policy makers we must find a long-term solution to funding our infrastructure needs by making the necessary reforms to the Highway Trust Fund.
“Patchwork solutions will only exacerbate the uncertainty in planning large and critical infrastructure projects going forward. Without long-term funding solutions at the state and federal level, implementing big and bold projects like Major Moves – which I was proud to vote for – will be difficult if not impossible in the future.”
Stutzman’s words make perfect sense, except for the fact that a long-term solution wasn’t on the table. To stand by and do nothing on something as basic as highway funding is even worse than squeaking a short-term solution through.
Those in the Senate who are tempted to follow Stutzman’s logic over the highway-funding cliff should remember a wise old cliche:
Politics is the art of the possible.