Inhofe Comments on President Obama’s Statement of Support for Senate Highway Bill
Washington, D.C. – Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, commented on the announcement today that the White House has officially backed the highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The Senate voted 85-11 to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed to the bill this afternoon.
“While I appreciate President Obama’s support for our highway bill, I must reiterate that this bill has enjoyed bipartisan success precisely because the President has stayed out of it,” Senator Inhofe said. “Just as he tried to take credit for increased domestic oil and natural gas production – which his record shows he clearly opposes – he is also trying to take credit at the last minute for the good bipartisan work we have accomplished in the Senate.
“The bottom line is that the President’s involvement is detrimental to our bipartisan efforts. Whenever the President gets involved in transportation infrastructure, he turns it in to a partisan, political issue. Remember back to his $787 billion failed stimulus bill, the one he claimed was an infrastructure bill? Despite all of his talk, only 3% went for infrastructure, 3% went for defense, and the rest went to liberal social engineering.
“On the other hand, when you have someone like me who has been called one of the most conservative senators in the U.S. Senate sponsoring a bill with someone like Senator Boxer who is the most liberal, and you have a bill that receives support from both sides of the aisle in the Finance, Banking and Environment and Public Works Committees, that is the kind of bipartisanship that can lead to success.
“In order to pass this highway bill, we must continue in this spirit of bipartisanship – and if President Obama gets involved it will turn into a partisan issue. Having said that, I appreciate what the President has said about our bill, and I look forward to getting it to his desk to sign soon.”
President Obama has never submitted a highway reauthorization proposal to Congress, even though the last bill expired in 2009. Furthermore, the Senate soundly rejected President Obama’s $50 billion stimulus transportation funding infusion. Finally, the infrastructure bank mentioned in President Obama’s statement of support for the Senate bill was not even voted on in the Finance Committee markup last week.