Once again the House GOP leadership is playing chicken with a major component of our transportation system. Instead of moving a highway and transit bill that will put Americans to work -- a move the Senate was able to pull off by a vote of 74 to 22 -- House leaders want to punt with another short-term extension.
There is an easy solution to this problem -- the House can take up the Senate's bipartisan bill (MAP-21) and put millions to work and improve our surface transportation system. President Obama will sign that bill tomorrow.
Instead, the House GOP has wasted months trying to find the votes for its deeply flawed five-year bill that we described in February as a "grab-bag for K Street lobbyists and their corporate clients at the expense of public transit, Amtrak and transportation safety." Not surprisingly, they don't have many takers for their plan outside those K Street lobbyists.
The Senate has handed the House a gift box filled with good jobs for an economy still suffering from high unemployment. When someone offers you a gift, good manners and common sense dictate you take it. Yet it seems all we hear about is another short-term extension. Obviously, both chambers must pass an extension to avoid the funding lapse and job loss that would occur if the program expires. But that misses the point.
This would be the 9th such extension in less than three years. Is anyone else having a dè já vu moment here thinking of the years of brinksmanship around the completion of an FAA reauthorization bill? Twenty-three times Congress had to pass an extension that delayed major air safety improvements, stymied much needed airport and air traffic control expansion and modernization, and stalled tens of thousands of construction jobs.
The House needs to end the stalemate and pass MAP-21 or strip the wrongheaded provisions from H.R. 7 and get to a Conference Committee with the Senate. The economy needs this bill -- it is the backbone for our system of surface freight and passenger commerce; it is the elixir for our fragile economy as 14 million people still look for work; it will provide transit systems and their workers new tools to weather recessions, and it will boost American manufacturing.
That's why our members will be mobilizing around a simple message to the House: "Get Moving." Yes, get moving on passing the Senate surface transportation bill -- recovering and rebuilding our transportation system and economy.
And here's how you can help: join us on Twitter, and tell Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) @SpeakerBoehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) @EricCantor and T&I Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) @TransportGOP to #getmoving on this important legislation. The economy can't wait any longer.
Follow Edward Wytkind on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EdWytkind