House Transportation Bill Split Into Three Parts, Just Like Titanic

Mirroring the record-setting 18-hour, 100+ amendment markup in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the House Rules Committee posted almost 300 amendments this morning. There are some real gems in here (being facetious, of course), including:

  • Two from Rep. Broun (R-GA), one would zero out funding for transit entirely and the other would zero out funding for all Amtrak rail lines except the Acela;
  • One from Rep. Graves (R-GA) which would ramp the federal program out of existence entirely;
  • One from Rep. Garrett (R-NJ) which would pilot elimination of the federal program in two states;
  • Several proposing to carve out even more waivers of environmental reviews;
  • Two from Rep. McKinley (R-WV) that would slash regulation of coal residual and coal ash;
  • One from Rep. Sullivan (R-OK) that would add a cement deregulation bill; and
  • One from Rep. Pombeo (R-KS) that would prevent regulation of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

And those are just the worst ones!

However, the bigger, more radical move taken by the Rules Committee splits the transportation bill into three components -- Transportation, drilling and federal pension reform provisions -- for separate votes. Then there what's called a "self-executing" component to the rule, a procedural trick that staples the bills together after separate votes. A colleague tells me this has only been done three times, ever, by the House.

Why do this? Because Leadership miscalculated, and doesn't have the votes to pass the whole thing. So they are gambling that they can squeak each controversial piece through. If one fails, they all fail. Conversely, that means a vote for any one is really a vote for the whole pile. 

When discussing the latest legislative shenanigans with the troubled House transportation bill, my colleague Rob Perks made an apt comparison: "It's worth noting that the Titanic broke into three pieces before it sank too." This is a little-known fact for those of us who saw the 1997 movie where it was depicted splitting in two.

Anyone who doesn't support the overall bill must vote against all three pieces, so we can sink the worst transportation bill ever.