Supporters say the bill would generate
additional work in the construction field
By Ellyn Ferguson
WASHINGTON In a rare display of unanimity, all 14 House
members from the Pacific Northwest voted Friday for a six-year
$275 billion transportation bill.
Supporters touted the transportation bill as a job bill because
of the construction work it would generate and passed it overwhelmingly
on a 357-65 vote.
The vote came only minutes after the House rejected a proposal
to rework the bill to add $43 billion.
All Pacific Northwest House Democrats Oregons
Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Darlene Hooley and David Wu
and Washingtons Brian Baird, Norm Dicks, Jay Inslee,
Rick Larsen, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith voted for
the reworking. The regions Republicans Greg Walden
of Oregon and Jennifer Dunn, Doc Hastings and George Nethercutt
of Washington voted against it.
The proposal, which failed, reflected the dissatisfaction
among many House members about the overall funding. The House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee originally proposed
a $375 billion bill but trimmed it under pressure from the
Negotiators from the House and Senate now will have the task
of trying to work out differences between their bills. Congress
faces a veto threat from President Bush if the final bill
worked out by negotiators is larger than $256 billion.
DeFazio, the fourth-most-senior Democrat on the Transportation
Committee, captured the frustration of his colleagues in a
statement issued after the final vote: This bill will
provide real projects to meet real needs and create real jobs.
Unfortunately, it is not enough to both catch up with the
maintenance backlog and make needed capacity improvements.
Of the $275 billion in the House bill that passed Friday,
$188 billion is distributed to states by formula.
The Pacific Northwests share of that formula money
is $5.8 billion through 2009: $2.2 billion for Oregon and
$3.6 billion for Washington. The Senate bill would give Oregon
$2.6 billion in formula money. Washington state would get
nearly $4.2 billion.