"That's what we're looking for now - transportation."
That's what former Rep. Ernest Istook said to Kathryn A. Wolfe, a transportation reporter for Politico.com, before whisking away outside of the convention center where the Republican National Convention is happening in Tampa, Fla.
It looks like transportation may become a factor in the presidential race as we head toward the November election, based on news this week coming out of Tampa.
Wolfe also reports in Politico's Morning Transportation newsletter that House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman John Mica is helping shape Mitt Romney's transportation message, and the GOP hopeful might be rolling out a new campaign before the election. "Mica also stuck up for VP nominee Paul Ryan, saying his budget isn't as bad for transportation as people think," she wrote.
Mica also told Wolfe, however, that the big focus at the convention is the financial condition of the country, not transportation.
The platform approved by Republicans on Tuesday calls for stopping the use of money earmarked for highway construction for other purposes, reports The Hill.Keith Laing reports
the platform "includes many provisions that were pushed by Republicans in the House during recent negotiations over the new $105 billion transportation bill that was approved by lawmakers in June," including reducing environmental regulations to help fast-track construction projects and using money that is earmarked for transportation for road and highway projects, rather than things such as public transit or bike paths -- or Amtrak, which "the GOP platform takes a harsh tack on."
On highway funding, the GOP platform adds: "[S]ecuring sufficient funding for the Highway Trust Fund remains a challenge given the debt and deficits and the need to reduce spending. Republicans will make hard choices and set priorities, and infrastructure will be among them."
The platform also is against some alternative transportation funding methods, such as a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax, which a number of studies (including the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission
and Rand Corp.)
have recommended as a replacement for a fuel tax.
"We oppose any funding mechanism that would involve governmental monitoring of every car and truck in the nation," the GOP platform says of the VMT proposal.