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Presidential Politics Boil Over Into Highway Bill Debate

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Presidential Politics

As the rhetoric in Washington, DC heats up the hot air escapes the confines of The Hill and seeps into the rest of the country, bringing an early summer to Presidential Campaign Season and further complicating our chances of passing a highway bill.

The House and Senate leaders are trying to get the Highway Bill into conference so they may begin resolving differences and reach a compromise. However, Speaker Boehner’s colleagues have a different mindset. Originally, Speaker Boehner hoped to pass a “clean” surface transportation extension, meaning free from changes in current policy or funding levels, but his members decided otherwise. The House members did not want to give the Senate the full advantage by only having its policy language to debate and none of the policy changes proposed by the House in H.R. 7 (the full, five-year reauthorization bill approved months ago by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee).

Two vital changes the House wants to add to the extension: the divisive Keystone XL Pipeline and the uncontroversial Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, necessary to receive BP’s oil spill monies and distribute the settlement to the Gulf Coast states. Aside from the importance of its main purpose, it has wide support and will keep Senator Landrieu from shutting down the Senate. And an additional ninety-day extension would be included. These proposals were included in the original “clean” extension, but that has changed since House leaders are now going to go to conference be a contentious summer.

With Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich stepping down from the race, Mitt Romney has sewn up the Republican nomination for President. This turns the focus to the General Election pitting Romney against Obama. It promises to be the most expensive election in history, as well as one of the nastiest.

In Texas, we are gearing up to vote in our much-delayed primary in May. Texans will select a new US Senator, assuming one of the candidates garners 50 + 1 percent. If not, Texans will have to wait until July when a run-off occurs to find out who will represent us. Front-runners are Lieutenant David Dewhurst, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, former ESPN commentator Craig James, and former solicitor general Ted Cruz. The winner of the Republican primary will most likely face former House Member Paul Sadler. If the first debate was any indication, this race is about to get very rough. There are several contested Congressional races as well as State House and Senate seats.

The federal task force of the highway funding committee is dedicated to providing accurate voting records on the Texas delegation to keep our members informed. The task force is also looking for ways to link in with the AGC of America website containing voting records so members would be able to see everyone’s voting record. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or the Austin AGC of Texas office to provide you with voting records.

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