Posted by Matt Dempsey

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Tulsa World

Editorial: What the ...?: Congress scuttles road funding

By World's Editorial Writers - 10/3/2009

Link to Tulsa World Editorial 

Inhofe Floor Statement: Congress Inaction Puts Thousands of Jobs at Stake

Inhofe Outraged Congress Fails to Act To Protect 17,000 American Jobs

Inhofe Warns Thousands of Oklahoma Jobs at Stake 

What's up with those geniuses in Congress? First they scurry around to get massive stimulus funding in the pipeline in an effort to quickly jump-start the economy, and then they fiddle around and let regular transportation funding that would further aid the recovery lapse.

Not a good recipe for ensuring that the recovery will continue.

Oklahoma transportation leaders learned this week that two squirrelly actions by Congress will force the state to slash its November contracts from $53.5 million to only $6.2 million.

A total of 18 state projects, including three in the Tulsa area, will be delayed by the actions that left the Oklahoma Department of Transportation with no federal funds to expend next month.

The congressional actions - or should we call them inactions - are difficult for the average citizen to understand, but the failure of our national leaders to address this situation is incomprehensible.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla, tried valiantly this past week to have at least some of the funding restored but unfortunately was unsuccessful. "Now we are going to pay the price,'' said Inhofe.

If action isn't taken fairly soon to restore the funding, the impact on Oklahoma could eventually reach $135 million.

ODOT Director Gary Ridley made the salient observation that the state was urged to hurry up and spend stimulus funding to create jobs, and now we're being forced to delay phases of some of those projects that were expedited. Didn't anyone think this course of action through?

One of the frustrations in this deal - apart from the fact that much-needed state projects are halted - is that highway construction is a classic, time-honored way in which federal spending can stimulate the nation's economy, which is supposedly what Congress is all about right now.

There's a chance that Congress will fix the problem by the end of this month, but that wouldn't be soon enough to restore the November work program. In fact, some of the delayed projects couldn't get back on schedule until early next year.

Inhofe blamed the funding snafu on politics, which comes as no surprise. Apparently it was just too much to ask of our leaders to put politics aside for once in favor of rescuing the economy and thousands of jobs.