Change in Washington?

President Obama and the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee may be in the same political party, but Tuesday brought another reminder that they are not on the same page when it comes to infrastructure policy.

Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., the T&I chairman has tried to get a new multi-year transportation spending program through Congress to replace the old one that expired last September and is going through a series of extensions.

Obama wants to put off deciding what should be in a new long-term program, and how to fund it, while reshaping transport spending for now through such budget proposals as a new infrastructure fund that would decide where to spend federal dollars.

The committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. John Mica of Florida, complained during a Feb. 23 hearing that lawmakers at one time had been poised to move ahead on a six-year reauthorization bill “in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion,” but instead “other factors intervened.”

At that point, Oberstar jumped in to add “until we ran into the can-do, change-you-can-believe-in administration that didn’t believe in it.”

Oberstar then chuckled and told Mica, “you don’t have to say that. I did.”

His ranking member responded, “There’s always hope for change.”

“It’s coming,” said Oberstar.

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