Inhofe Blasts Transport Bill Inaction That Comes From His Own Party

The Senate environment committee’s senior Republican, Jim Inhofe (OK), delivered
a stern warning today to any lawmakers who would force another
short-term extension of federal transportation programs, which are set to expire at midnight Saturday.

medium.htmSen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) (Photo: NewsOK)

"We
have bridges in Oklahoma that are crumbling and falling down. People
could be hurt," Inhofe told a talk radio station in his home state, as reported
by the local Associated Press. "We have to do this. … Any government
that can spend $700 billion to bail out banks shouldn’t be having the
problems that we’re having."

Oklahoma is far from the only state that faces urgent problems
caused by decaying infrastructure. A commercially vital bridge over
Lake Champlain was shut down
last week when the New York state DOT found weaknesses in its supports,
cutting off a large Vermont dairy farm from its own milking cows.

But
Inhofe did not mention the leading source of the impasse over a
longer-term extension of the 2005 transportation bill: his own party.

The
Oklahoman told CQ earlier this week that "at least two Republicans
objected" to unanimously approving six months’ worth of funding, "and
that there is not enough floor time to finish a bill this week under
normal procedure."

A similar situation played out in the wee hours of last month, when Republican senators blocked a plan
to use unspent money from the $700 billion banking bailout — which
Inhofe voted against — to prevent the cancellation of more than $8
billion in transportation contracts.

As Streetsblog Capitol Hill reported yesterday,
barring a last-minute agreement to take up the six-month extension, the
federal transportation program is likely to be extended under a
"continuing resolution" that lasts until Dec. 18 or a three-month
extension, already approved in the House, that lasts until Dec. 31.

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