McCarthy: GOP will build off highway, port funding bills

McCarthy: GOP will build off highway, port funding bills
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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Wednesday that Republicans would build off a 2012 highway funding and 2014 port spending measure to implement more reforms of government programs if they maintain the majority of the House in next month’s elections. 

Transportation advocates have lamented the lack of long-term extension of the 2012 highway bill, which expired in September of this year. 

Lawmakers could not reach an agreement on a funding source for a long-term highway funding package, so they opted instead for temporary extension of the 2012 bill that is scheduled to expire next May. 

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Still, McCarthy said in a memo released on Wednesday that the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act and this year’s Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) were examples of the type of legislation the Republican majority would pass if it keeps control of the House. 

“Inefficient, ineffective, and incompetent federal agencies along with failed government policies have real world consequences. They hurt economic growth and job creation,” McCarthy wrote. “Restoring economic growth and job creation will be the central policy goal of the next Congress and restoring competence in government will be part of that effort.

“The inability of the government to accomplish its most basic tasks has eroded the public’s trust in government, as polls have repeatedly shown,” he continued. “We must work to end this cycle of failings and make government functional again. Building off our progress in the 2012 highway bill and WRRDA this year, a portion of our 2015 legislative agenda will focus on reforming and streamlining federal agencies so government works as it should.” 

Republicans have touted the $12.3 billion port and waterways bill that was approved in May as a model of future bipartisan transportation funding legislation. 

The measure identified more than $12 billion worth of new water infrastructure projects and authorizes funding for them, but it also deauthorized $18 billion worth of old projects that had been on Army Corps of Engineers dockets for years. The cut was a win for Republicans who argued that previous water infrastructure funding measures contained wasteful spending. 

Lawmakers had difficulty finding such a sweet spot when it came time to renew highway funding in the summer, however. 

Transportation advocates had pushed for an increase in the $18.4 cents per gallon gas tax that has been used to pay for highway projects for generations, but Republicans resisted the effort to hike the levy for the first time in more than 20 years ahead of a hotly contested election.