Although Republicans campaigned on putting Americans back to work, the first vote the new GOP-led House took will actually cut jobs, according to one labor leader.
Contained within the package of House rules Republicans adopted Wednesday right after voting in Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as speaker was a provision that will “henceforth allow highway and transit funds that have already been raised to sit idle in a bank account, reducing investment in highways and transit, and subsequently destroying jobs,” says Mark Ayres, head of the the Building and Construction Trades Department, an alliance of 13 national and international unions that represent 2 million professionals in the United States and Canada.
“The 112th Congress convened this week and the first order of business by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives was, incredibly, to cut jobs and funding to highway and transit programs,” Ayres says. “Specifically, House Republicans changed a number of longstanding rules, including one that historically ensured that money raised solely for highway and transit projects through the federal gas tax be spent on those projects.”
Voters want their leaders in Washington to focus on job creation, Ayers notes. Opinion polls put the economy and jobs as the top priority of the public at a time when the nation’s unemployment rate seems frozen close to double digits.
“Last November, the American people demanded that Congress make economic growth and job creation their top priority,” Ayers says. “For the millions of unemployed Americans in the construction industry, cutting funding that would put them to work repairing or replacing our crumbling bridges, highways and transit systems is not a solution; it’s a slap in the face.”
GOP leaders included the transportation-related provision in their rules package over the objection of Boehner’s home-state Republican colleague, Rep. Steve LaTourette, Ayers says.
“We thank Congressman LaTourette for his efforts to prevent this rule from taking effect,” he says. “We will need more voices like his, if Congress plans on getting serious about fixing the real problem facing our country; which is JOBS.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.