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Inhofe critical of Obama's proposal to spend billions on transportation
by: JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Monday, September 06, 2010
9/6/2010 3:27:42 PM
Link to Article
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe on Monday predicted President Obama's latest proposal to spend billions more on transportation and revamp the way certain projects are selected will go nowhere in Congress.
Even Democrats will be outraged and view Obama's approach as an attempt to strip authority away from Congress, the Oklahoma Republican said.
Inhofe dismissed the significance of the president's announcement, pointing to its timing. "It is all show for the election," he said.
As the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe is a major player on transportation issues in Congress.
Senior administration officials, speaking to reporters several hours before Obama's announcement, emphasized the bipartisan approach that will be needed to get a new transportation bill passed.
Inhofe played a key role in putting together the current law and presumably would be a part of any bipartisan effort in the future.
He singled out for criticism parts of the administration's proposal that would use so-called livability factors in directing funds, put high-speed rail in the surface transportation program to ensure future funding and get away from formula-based approach on sending highway trust fund money to states.
"Formulas are what makes it work," Inhofe said.
Using livability factors, which he described as a "lot of liberal stuff," and rolling high-speed rail in the surface transportation program would benefit the more urban areas of the country but hurt states like Oklahoma, the senator said.
If the president wants to push high-speed rail, Inhofe said, then he should create another trust fund for it.
"We've got to rebuild roads and highways," he said.
Inhofe said the administration's bid to pay for the additional spending by closing what it called tax loopholes for the oil and gas industry should be viewed as another attack on that industry.
He accused Obama of using the nation's desperate need for infrastructure improvements to punish the oil and gas industry and again predicted that effort would fail.