Baseball is America’s cherished Rite of Spring. Except in Washington, where slapping a patch on the Highway Trust Fund has become the signature of the season.

Like the national pastime, Congressional politics are played without a clock. But fastball is seldom played on Capitol Hill.

On the other hand, curveballs sure get pitched a lot up there. Even when the score is tied and the bases are loaded and the count is full in the bottom of the ninth.

And so is it that about three weeks and a weekend until the current highway bill expires, Congressional leaders are dithering not over whether to pass a short-term extension of the highway bill, but whether such a measure should provide funding just through July. Or maybe it should run until September. Or, hey, how about all the way until the end of the year?

For starters, it was less than reassuring to read today that none other than the influential Sen. John Thune (R-SD)-- Chairman of the Commerce Committee and leader of the  Senate GOP Conference said there will be “something done” about highway funding. “I’m not saying it’s going to be the solution that we’re all ultimately hoping will happen,” he told reporters this week, according to a report posted by The Hill.

Meanwhile, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, favors an extension lasting perhaps a few months.

Inhofe's view dovetails with what Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has been saying— that there’s enough left in the Highway Trust Fund to cover expenditures into July. But only if a funding bill is passed by the end of this month.

However, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chairman of the Finance Committee, has cut that play off already, according to Politico.com, suggesting any patch may have to stretch until the end of the year.

 “We’re not going to get it without tax increases, and I don’t think that’s going to be acceptable to the House,” Hatch was quoted as saying yesterday. “So it’s nice to talk about it, but the reality is it’s going to be pretty hard to do.”

On a more positive note, The Hill news report blamed the disparity of views on how long this season’s short-term patch should run not on partisan politics, but rather on practical disagreement over how much more time will be needed “to strike a deal that would last as long as six years.”

Peanuts and Cracker Jack, anyone?

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David Cullen
David Cullen

David Cullen

Executive Editor David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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Executive Editor David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

View Bio
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