by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The White House sent to Congress Monday a nearly half-trillion-dollar proposal for a federal highway bill, but despite bipartisan calls for additional infrastructure spending, the effort is likely to be defeated.
When Republicans took control of both chambers in January, the White House identified a long-term funding plan for crumbling roads, railways and ports as one of the few areas where Obama could get something done legislatively.
Judging from GOP reaction to the unveiling of the six-year highway blueprint, Obama overestimated his ability to win over conservatives on his payment plan.
“It’s not going anywhere,” a House GOP leadership aide told the Washington Examiner.
As the House and Senate attempt to reconcile transportation spending plans — and with the Highway Trust Fund set to expire at the end of May — the lack of consensus of how to pay for a big-ticket item may prove insurmountable.
Obama would like to pay for his proposals by taxing corporate overseas profits that companies bring back to the United States.
Republicans would prefer a broader tax reform package, which then could be used to pay for repairs and investments.
The impasse speaks to the larger standoff over how to fund government priorities, with Obama urging lawmakers to resist austerity and spend more on federal fixes, arguing that such spending would jumpstart the economy.