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House Republicans Ram Highway Bill Through Without a Roll Call Vote

House Republican Leaders seem absolutely hell bent on violating their own budget. First they announce that the legislation or the “continuing resolution” to extend discretionary funding for the next fiscal year will exceed the House-passed, Paul Ryan budget resolution by $24 billion and line up instead with the sacred debt limit agreement.

Then we find out that a separate bill (H.R. 2887) to extend the federal highway and aviation programs for six months was rushed through the House this afternoon without even a recorded vote. The problem with this legislation was that it extends a broad set of transportation programs that the nation can no longer afford and which are in dire need of reform. It was a missed opportunity, and at the very least, the bill should have extended the programs at the level provided for in the Paul Ryan budget. Ryan’s budget—which almost every Republican Member voted for—included $27 billion for highways programs, about $15 billion less than was provided in FY 2011. In addition, H.R. 2887 lacked a formal cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, so its impossible to nail down the numbers for sure. Bills without cost estimates shouldn’t see the light of day in committee, let alone the floor of the House of Representatives.

After Heritage Action for America (in full disclosure, my employer) announced that it was key voting the legislation for precisely these reasons, Leadership quickly moved that the bill be passed without a roll call vote, meaning that Members had no chance to register their objection to the bill and activists would have no way to hold them accountable. Now every Congressman has the right to demand a roll call vote, and when a bad bill passes the full House by voice vote (or unanimous consent) they are ultimately responsible.  But these sort of games by the Leadership are an affront to all of the promises made during the campaign that the House would be run differently with more accountability and more transparency. Rank-and-file congressmen should expect more of their Leadership, and conservatives need to figure out a better way to monitor this from happening again.

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