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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Another split vote for Nelson, Rubio



Another big vote in the U.S. Senate, another mixed take from Florida.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson joined a large bipartisan majority in passing a $109 billion highway transportation bill. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was among 22 Republicans who voted no.

Advocates pitch the bill as a jobs act, saying it would preserve or create an estimated 2.8 million jobs and fix decaying infrastructure. An amendment also diverts 80 percent of the BP oil spill penalties to the Gulf. Rubio, who voted against that amendment, had concerns about the overall cost of the highway bill, his office said.

"While modernizing America’s infrastructure is an important goal that government can play a role in advancing, S.1813 crashes into our nation’s hard fiscal realities and makes it impossible for me to support.  The bill spends too much, at a level of $109 billion over the next two years," Rubio said in a statement. (continued below)

"This is despite the fact that the Highway Trust Fund is going broke, with the Congressional Budget Office estimating that the fund will be insolvent sometime in 2013. Sadly, this is not a new issue. Taxpayers have already spent $34.5 billion to bailout the trust fund in recent years, and I see nothing in this bill that will prevent this from happening again. With our national debt on course to exceed $16 trillion by year’s end and taxpayers already struggling under the weight of Washington’s fiscal policies, this legislation paves the way towards yet another bailout.

"Instead of making reforms that empower states instead of bureaucrats in Washington, the bill relies on Washington-style accounting gimmicks and proliferates costly mandates that sharply raise the cost of highway spending to the American taxpayer. I agree with my colleagues that we need to pass a transportation bill, but not when we cannot meet the financial obligations that the bill requires.

Therefore, I did not support it."

The House still has to pass the bill and prospects are uncertain.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 6:40pm]


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