Transportation Aborted

Like most Americans, I was bombarded by sound-bites and blog-bytes surrounding an amendment to an Act of Congress that would require a woman to submit to and review the results of a trans-vaginal ultrasound before receiving an abortion. This amendment was covered ad nauseam by everyone from the Huffington Post to the nightly news on broadcast television. I don’t mind admitting that I’m past the age where this Act of Congress would have an effect on me personally.

What really bothered me was that no one talked about the core problem of how deranged our political process has become in Washington. The real issue here that impacts all of us is that this amendment was attached to a transportation funding bill – TRANSPORTATION, not a Health Care Bill or a Health Insurance Bill or even an Equal Opportunity Employment Bill but a TRANSPORTATION funding bill.

All of these journalists are as at fault over the issue as the bunch of Congressmen who tried – once again – to slip one past the balance of powers and our democratic form of government. The guilty parties in Washington DC start with:

In the House of Representatives, Mr. Fortenberry (NE), Mr. Boren (OK), Mrs. McMorris Rodgers (WA), Mr.Scalise (LA), Mr. Tiberi (OH), Mr. CONAWAY (TX), Mr. Lamborn (CO), Mr. Walberg (MI), and Mr. Lipinski (IL) who introduced  “H.R.1179 -- Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011” on March 17, 2011. By the time the bill was attached as an amendment to the highway funding bill, the number of co-sponsors had risen from 8 to 221.

In the Senate, Mr. Blunt (MO), Mr. Rubio (FL), and Ms. Ayotte (NH)) introduced S. 1467 on August 2, 2011. The cosponsors in the Senate went from 2 to 37.

That’s a total of 260 elected representatives who will be responsible for the continuing deterioration of highway infrastructure in the United States. The current Federal authorization for funding surface transportation programs ends March 30, 2012.

The current funding authorization is just the most recent in a long line of temporary extensions that have been strung together since the last 5-year plan expired in 2009. The highway funding bill in question – to which this healthcare amendment is being attached – would authorize funding of $109 billion over 2 years. If nothing is done by March 30, if no action is taken to fund US highway infrastructure, the Department of Transportation (DoT) will have to furlough workers and stop paying contractors, according to Humberto Sanches of Roll Call. Last summer, DoT sent home 4,000 FAA employees and 70,000 private-sector workers because Congress failed to act on funding.

The process for highway funding is already convoluted and inefficient – watching the current Congress add abortion amendments to the funding bill gives us a peek into how it got that way. In the meantime the United States’ infrastructure is crumbling and the rest of the world is getting ahead of us. No wonder we’re deranged.

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