NATIONAL TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP URGES CONGRESS TO DEFEAT HOUSE TRANSPORTATION BILL | Citizens Against Government Waste

NATIONAL TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP URGES CONGRESS TO DEFEAT HOUSE TRANSPORTATION BILL

Press Release

Embargoed for Release Contact:  Jim Campi
March 31, 1998

           (202) 467-5300

 

Washington, D.C. –- At a Capitol Hill news conference today, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) joined members of Congress in urging the House of Representatives to defeat the Building Efficient Surface Transportation and Equity Act (H.R. 2400) –- better known as the BESTEA bill.  The $218.3 billion bill, introduced last September by House Transportation Chairman Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), is loaded with extraneous spending and pork-barrel projects.

“House members are selling out their principles for a handful of pavement pork,” remarked CCAGW President Thomas A. Schatz.  “How will members be able to go back to their districts and tell their constituents they are being fiscally responsible after voting for this pork-laden monstrosity of a bill?”

The BESTEA bill is strewn throughout with all sorts of wasteful spending, including $12 million for an Appalachian Transportation Institute and $3 million for a television documentary on highway infrastructure.  The bill also contains $9.3 billion for more than 1400 highway demonstration projects –- proposals requested by individual members of Congress that are little more than handouts.

“Of all the questionable programs contained in this bill, demonstration projects are the most intolerable,” Schatz stated.  “Does the public really want millions of their hard earned tax dollars spent on call boxes in Santa Barbara and parking lots in Yorba Linda and Peoria?  I doubt it.”

The BESTEA bill also threatens to undo the balanced budget compromise hammered out by Congress and the White House last summer.  According to House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich (R-Ohio), a staunch opponent of the Shuster bill, BESTEA will exceed the balanced budget caps by $26 billion.

“If Congress persists in this attempt to break the highway spending caps imposed on the budget less than a year ago, the balanced budget deal is dead,” Schatz grimly noted.  “How is anyone going to be able to trust Congress to restrain itself after this orgy of pork-barrel spending, especially when there are no offsets to this excess?”

Schatz further remarked that taking the highway trust fund off-budget, as the BESTEA bill does, is a big mistake.  “By taking transportation funds off-budget, the House is creating a new entitlement program –- one that threatens to explode the federal budget and guarantee the return of deficits for years to come,” Schatz stated.  He urged the Senate to stand firm in its refusal to take the transportation trust fund off-budget.

CCAGW is a 600,000 member nonprofit, nonpartisan lobbying organization dedicated to enacting legislation to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in government.

 

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