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GOP pushes highway bill opposed by some conservatives

Republicans used their weekly address on Saturday to push a highway bill that is being opposed on the right by the Club for Growth.

Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) argued that the bill is vital for the economy and highlighted the fact that it has no earmarks, unlike GOP-backed bills in the past.

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“In 2005, I’m sad to say, a Republican-led Congress passed a highway bill that contained more than 6,300 earmarks, including the ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’ John Boehner was one of only eight members who voted against that bill. He’s now our Speaker, and those days are over,” Meehan said.

Meehan noted that the American Energy & Jobs Infrastructure Act generates revenue to pay for infrastructure by expanding energy production.

“Instead of more earmarks or new taxes, our bill will remove barriers to job growth by expanding American energy production – which will help lower gas prices – and using the revenue to repair and improve our roads and bridges,” he said.

While environmentalists are opposed to the bill’s energy provisions, GOP leadership is having to deal with opposition from the Club for Growth as well.

The Club for Growth on Feb. 1 announced it was holding any yes votes on the bill against members in its annual scorekeeping exercise. Opposition by the Club could make it difficult to whip the bill when it comes to the House floor.

“Simply put, this is a massive 846-page bill that doesn't cut any spending at all. Indeed, it spends at least $30 billion more by supplementing fuel taxes with additional revenue from other sources,” the Club said in its release. “True reform would devolve infrastructure building and maintenance back to the states and end or greatly reduce the federal gas tax.”

Meehan’s address said the infrastructure bill, along with a year long payroll tax extension and 30 other measures, shows the GOP has a serious jobs agenda that is being obstructed by Democrats.

He argued that President Obama should back the highway bills since Obama called for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy in the State of the Union address.

“The House is acting on good ideas, and with help from the President and Democrats in the Senate, we can get things done.  The people we represent sent us here to find solutions and move the country forward – not further divide it,” he said.