Riding the Rails with Tom Davis
Monday, July 17, 2006 :::
Over at the newly-designed Club for Growth blog, Andrew has a couple of posts on a proposal from Rep. Tom Davis to provide $1.5 billion in federal funds to WMATA, if local governments match the funds through new taxes (seems like we've been down this line before).
Davis defends the spending request with a bit of puffery, which is to be expected. But the Heritage Foundation's Ron Utt raises questions about the origins of Davis's request, and whom it would actually serve:
Beyond such posturing lies a legislative effort whose origins sprang from an act of constituent service, and chief among the constituents served is the Congressman himself. As originally introduced in July 2005, H.R. 3496 was written to force a resolution of a dispute between Mr. Davis and Metro over its plan to sell 3.75 acres of land it owns beside a rail station to a developer who wanted to incorporate the land into a large, mixed-use development near Mr. Davis’s home. Concerned about traffic congestion and the displacement of suburban charm by urban density, Mr. Davis threatened to do something about it. While most Americans can only complain about encroaching development, Mr. Davis can use his congressional powers to prohibit it, and H.R. 3496 was written to do exactly that. Specifically, Section 4(a) of the bill prohibits Metro from selling the 3.75 acres in question until it has submitted a detailed study of the proposed land sale and planned development to Congress. But as Metro has since sold the land to the developer, this legislative prohibition is pointless, and all that remains of the bill is a massive federal and local bailout of the faltering system.
Now that's constituent service.
But it's also probably nothing new. Given the House's recent record of approving just about every spending request put before it, there's little reason to believe this one will not also be approved. Even so, it would be helpful if, instead of simply bailing out Metro, the worthies would require it to follow some of these recommendations on competitive contracting.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 7/17/2006