US House Transportation Panel Showcases Partisan Dispute

On Oct. 14, Rep. Peter DeFazio held court on Broadway. Monday is usually the off day in the Theatre District, but at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, the country’s top transportation Democratic policymaker kept an audience engaged with his one-man show.

He had reaffirmed his commitment to legislate on a highway policy bill during the current session of Congress. The bill, he explained, will be transformative. It will look to prepare the country for the vehicle-miles-traveled era. It will include robust policy language about transit.

After his remarks, the audience peppered him with questions. Funding came up. As in, how will Congress inject the actual dollars necessary to enact a grand vision for the nation’s transportation network. Remember, funding authority for highway programs expires in the fall of 2020. After calling out a top Republican for pushing back on higher fuel taxes as a source of funding, DeFazio (D-Ore.) added: “I do not think it’s politically risky. People are tired of congestion. They’re tired of potholes. They’re tired of being detoured. You know, they want the systems fixed.”