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Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Happy National Public Works Week…or Not

In Federal Government, Politics on March 31, 2010 at 7:52 pm

The press release on the committee website speaks of a “slap to the face” by House Republicans delivered to “thousands of public works professionals across the nation.”

House Republicans Oppose Honoring Public Works Professionals; Republican partisan politics sink National Public Works Week resolution heads the release.

These days in Washington partisan shots and tiffs are so commonplace as not to be worth noting.  But since this appeared on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee website I thought it worth a brief mention if only to confirm what we already know.  Nowadays even a committee known for bipartisan cooperation is a meeting ground for campaign year smackdowns.

It’s not that disagreements and raised voices are unknown in this committee.  Put Davis-Bacon on the table and you’ll see party and regional differences.

During this 111th Congress the economic stimulus measure–the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 or ARRA–was the high profile target of the GOP leadership and it continues to be.  And given how politicized it has become for all we know the subject resolution may have been a Democrats’ set-up for their Republican colleagues.

During the brief floor debate on House Res. 1125 the ranking Republican on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, John Duncan of Tennessee, spoke in support of the resolution and called on his colleagues to vote for it.   And why not?  This is apple pie on the legislative menu.

Sometime after Duncan’s remarks and the vote taken later that day someone higher up the Republican ladder must have read the resolution.  The word went out –Republicans should vote no.  Which is what they did, Duncan included.

All but one Democrat–Gene Taylor of Mississippi–voted for it.  Not the two-thirds affirmation required under the fast track “suspension of the rules” the 249 to 172 vote was insufficient to pass the resolution.

The release from Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) explained* that the GOP leaders opposed the resolution because of favorable references to ARRA.  You know–projects started, jobs created.  So the word went out. Vote no.  Probably the decision was made even easier as the resolution sponsor and floor manager was Rep.Tom Perriello (D-VA), a very vulnerable and GOP-targeted freshman Democrat.   (*There is no mention of this matter on the minority’s website.)

This year even the 50th anniversary of National Public Works Week is something to disagree over.    Pbea