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Highway bill is a key test for Boehner and House GOP


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246776Washington Examiner:

When voters tossed Republican majorities out of the Senate and House in 2006, a major reason for low conservative turnout was disgust with then-record levels of government spending. Billions of dollars in earmarks went to benefit members of Congress, their former staff, and favored campaign contributors. Voters got tired of hearing congressional Republicans' empty promises to reduce federal expenditures, restore limited government and provide honest, constitutional governance.

In the following years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ran up trillions of dollars in added federal spending and debt. They approved a $787 billion economic stimulus package that failed to stimulate the national economy. They passed Obamacare, which put bureaucrats between Americans and their doctors.

Republicans were swept back into power in the House. This time, they promised, they had "learned the lessons of 2006." There would be no more "business-as-usual" in Washington.

Now comes an 846-page, $260-billion, five-year highway bill called the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012. It has several provisions that will appeal to conservative House members, especially those elected in the Tea Party-inspired 2010 victory. Among the reasons to support this bill: It contains no earmarks. It mandates approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. It kills the requirement that states spend 10 percent of their federal transportation funds on bike lanes and other "transportation enhancements."

The highway bill would stop the diversion of gas tax revenues to support mass transit, which serves a steadily declining portion of the nation's commuters. It funds highway maintenance and construction with revenues expected from oil and gas royalties generated by opening federal lands in Alaska and the continental U.S., and by drilling offshore.Scissors-32x32.png

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