What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs : HR 3357. (Solvency of federal trust funds) Vitter of Louisiana amendment that would direct that money used for highway spending should come from unspent stimulus funding/On agreeing to the amendment (2009 senate Roll Call 249)
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HR 3357. (Solvency of federal trust funds) Vitter of Louisiana amendment that would direct that money used for highway spending should come from unspent stimulus funding/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 249     Jul 30, 2009
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by David Vitter, R-La., that would have required that $7 billion in highway spending should come not from general taxpayer revenues but rather from unspent money remaining from the 2009 economic stimulus law.  The amendment was offered to a bill that would funnel $7 billion into the Highway Trust Fund, which fuels federal surface transportation spending, in order to keep the fund from becoming insolvent.

“The Vitter amendment simply moves $7 billion from the stimulus—less than 1 percent of the original stimulus program—to backfill and take care of the need in the highway trust fund,” Vitter said.  “The underlying bill fixes the hole in the highway trust fund simply by racking up more debt, and that is why there is a budget point of order against it. So we need to stop this never-ending upward spiral of borrowing.  No. 2, by doing this, we can focus a little bit of the stimulus on something I believe we all think it always should have been focused on: infrastructure spending and spending now versus later. This will move the $7 billion toward roadway spending now, which is effective stimulus.”

Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said there is nothing “reckless” about ensuring that federal money continues flowing to the states to fund highway and bridge repair and construction.  Boxer also noted that the Congressional Budget Office, in its analysis of the bill, estimated that it would not create debt, but rather create a small surplus, because of the way the funding is used.

“The second point is, there are tens of billions of dollars in unspent funds that we authorized on a bipartisan vote on the stimulus package. I know most of my colleagues on the other side never wanted to do that stimulus package. I understand that. I respect it. But the fact is, we finally see these funds going out and hiring the people we want to make sure have jobs,” Boxer said.

By a vote of 42-55, the amendment was rejected.  Every Republican present voted for the amendment.  All but two Democrats present voted against the amendment.  The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have directed $7 billion for highway spending come from unspent economic stimulus funds, rather than from general taxpayer funding.

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