posted on February 14, 2013 16:30
In a U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee hearing examining the role of the federal government in the U.S. transportation sector, there seemed to be unanimous agreement that federal support is crucial, including Committee Chairman Bill Schuster (R-Pa.) and ranking member Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).
When asked by Rahall whether they would support a federal role as opposed to devolution, referring to a movement to end the federal gas tax and hand all transportation planning and fund-raising decisions to states, each witness had the exact same one-word reply: “Absolutely.”
The witnesses consisted of groups that typically disagree, including Tom Donahue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania.
The witness table was not the only place with a largely one-sided view of the issue — Shuster and Rahall were on the same page as well. “I think everybody believes the Constitution says that there has to be a federal role. It’s just a matter of how we move forward because the devil is in the details,” Shuster told POLITICO after the hearing.
The hearing was the committee’s first since organizing last month. It was seen by some as a way to preemptively beat back the claims from devolutionists that the U.S. surface transportation network would be improved if states were fully responsible for all transportation decisions: how much money to raise, how to do it, and what gets built where. There are expected to be many hearings before the panel tackles the tough task of writing a new surface transportation bill, due before October 2014.