August 2014

We’ve been through this before. It’s August 2014 and Congress and we are staring at another highway funding precipice because the House, Senate and the President can’t get together and solve much of anything anymore. And it isn’t like infrastructure is some conservative versus liberal philosophical deal; it isn’t like immigration reform or foreign policy or economic theory for which there are at least two equally possible ways of approaching and/or solving these issues. Road and bridge funding is what it is; either they crumble or fall down or they don’t, it’s that simple … for us.

You see, Congress plays games with just about every bill and vote — or lack of a vote. They attach things to bills that often have little or nothing to do with the main aspect of them. They do this knowing that the bill has virtually no chance to pass, but they do it to force members in the other party to either vote for or against the main part of the bill so that they use that against each other in commercials and in debates when it comes to re-election time.

For example, you can create the commercial yourself because you’ve seen or heard it a thousand times: “My opponent voted against providing food for starving children.” Well, OK, that’s technically true, but the reason why that member voted against the measure was because somebody threw into the bill funding that amounted to something like $5 million to study the migration path of some bat someplace. Sounds absurd, but that’s how this works these days in Congress. Members in each party inject something into bills that they know the other party can’t possibly philosophically vote for. They do this until the last possible moment and it’s then when they finally get something through because there’s no time left to play games. But they will leave a window for themselves to play more games later.

By the time you read this, Congress probably will have acted on the Highway Trust Fund, but it will more than likely be yet another temporary fix, not the long-term certain funding that DOTs across the country need. This way of solving problems is arrogant and dangerous. This is not how America became great; we’ve never been the best country on earth because we thought we were and it just happened. It happened through hard work, passion and an unrelenting commitment to solving our problems and moving forward. If we can’t figure out a way to repair our infrastructure, it won’t be the only thing that crumbles to the ground.

You can also view previous issues of Superintendent's Profile.