This vote was on an amendment that would have allowed states to ignore health and environmental requirements for many projects to reconstruct roads and bridges.
Sen. Ron Paul (R-KY) offered the amendment to counter what he called “out of control” government. In cases where safety concerns lead to reconstruction of a bridge or road, Sen. Paul’s amendment would have allowed all environmental rules and other regulations to be waived.
These requirements needlessly delay reconstruction, and the waiver would allow critically needed infrastructure to be rebuilt as quickly as possible, Sen. Paul said.
“Often we wait years to go through the government red tape. This cuts through it and allows states to immediately repair and replace broken or collapsed bridges and roads,” Sen. Paul said.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) opposed the amendment, saying it “launches a sweeping attack on federal and state health and environmental safeguards.” She argued that the law is already flexible, noting that it took only a year to replace a major bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis, Minn., in 2007.
“If you have a bridge in your great state that is over 50 years old, it has lead and it has asbestos. Every health and safety [regulation] that deals with the safe disposal of just those two toxins – let alone PCBs and others – they are waived” under Sen. Paul’s amendment, Sen. Boxer said.
Sen. Paul’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 42-54. Voting “yea” were 41 Republicans and 1 Democrat. Voting “nay” were 51 Democrats and 3 Republicans. As a result, the Senate killed the attempt to allow states to ignore health and environmental regulations for many road construction projects.