Federal discretionary transportation funds would be evenly distributed among all 50 states, instead of given to just 5 large cities as happened in 2007, under an amendment introduced today in the House Appropriations Committee by Congressman John Carter of Texas.
Carter, a key member of the Appropriations Committee, offered the amendment to offset an unintended consequence of House Republicans' moratorium on earmark spending. By relinquishing the ability to target discretionary highway and transit funding in federal transportation legislation, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation assumes control of the funds by default. When the House similarly abandoned earmarked funding in 2007, the Secretary awarded all national funding to just five cities.
"There is a reason the Constitution assigns spending decisions to the U.S. House of Representatives, and this situation is a prime example," says Carter. "The House should serve as a check to assure that federal projects are funded in an equitable way around the country, and if we remove ourselves from the process as we have this year, we risk the kind of gross favoritism of funding distribution that we saw in 2007. While I fully support our current earmark moratorium to combat out-of-control pork barrel spending, we must also address these issues, and work to come up with a better system."
The Carter Amendment to the Highway/Bus Discretionary Funds in the SAFETEA-LU legislation would divide the funds equally by existing transportation formula to all the states.