11 Jan

Congress is in gridlock, but traffic shouldn’t be

I don’t have great expectations for this Congress, with Republicans controlling both houses, a Democratic president and the 2016 presidential campaign starting last week. It would be nice to have a working budget process, with Congress passing each departmental budget on time and not throwing everything together at the last minute just to keep the government open.

Of course, it would also be nice for Congress to make heating oil out of Diet Coke.

But there’s something that Congress should be able to do, and really ought to do.

Every five years, Congress is supposed to pass a transportation package, covering roads, bridges and transit, trying to keep the country up-to-date in an area where we’re falling wildly behind. China and Europe spend way more on their systems than we do, and we’re trying to move a 21st century economy on a 20th century transportation grid.

In 2012, Congress gave up on passing a five-year bill, and passed a two-year measure, which runs out May 31. If it’s not replaced, we could lose the entire summer construction season. The President and Congress won’t agree on everything, but they should agree on something.

Democrats and Republicans may disagree on where we’re going, but wherever it is, we need to be able to get there.

NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 1/10/15.

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