The Transportation Lobby

Published — October 14, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

The perils of a highway bill

Boehner, others want new road spending, but watch out for special interests

Introduction

The latest idea for jump-starting the economy? A new highway spending bill. But as iWatch News reported in 2009, such efforts have traditionally been loaded up with pork and loaded down by thousands of lobbyists.

According to POLITICO, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has directed his staff to work with the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on a new six-year bill to rebuild the nation’s highway system. Such bills are traditionally multi-year affairs worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but the nation’s been without such legislation since the previous bill — a four-year measure worth $286 billion — expired in late 2009. Since then, highway spending has inched forward in a series of stopgap measures that have infuriated highway-backers in Congress and frustrated Washington’s considerable road-building lobby.

There’s no doubt a new highway bill would create thousands of construction jobs. Trouble is, such efforts have traditionally been disorganized free-for-alls that have sometimes revealed the worst of Washington. The iWatch News investigation noted that the previous bill contained 6,371 overt earmarks and further found that at least 2,100 lobbyists were engaged in trying to influence Congress as it attempted to shape a new transportation measure.

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