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Heath Care Architect Baucus: I Was Focused on Transpo Bill

Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 04:58 PM

Senator Max Baucus, left, touring Mark Rite Lines Equipment Company, a Billings, MT-based highway striping equipment manufacturing facility with company president Jim Spielman, R.

(Billings, MT – YPR)  - The chief  architect of the Affordable Care Act says he wasn’t sitting in the U-S Supreme Court to hear the justices uphold the law. Instead Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) was working on passing a federal transportation bill.

“I was thinking of going over (to the Supreme Court) but frankly I have so much to do,” Baucus says. “I gotta work to get this highway bill passed.” He says sitting at the Court would be “very interesting. Historical. But not the best use of my time.”

Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He’s also a member of the subcommittee Conference Committee the current transportation bill which expires Saturday.

Baucus says he's pleased a deal could be reached even if it covers only about 2 1/2 years.

“That’s half a loaf.  Usually highway bills are 5 or 6 years. That would be a whole loaf,” he says. A full re authorization would give better certainty to highway departments, contractors, and others to plan ahead, he says.

In reaching the compromise, Republicans on the conference committee gave up on two key points, including putting on a fast track a permit for the proposed Keystone X-L pipeline. Baucus also strongly supports that project.

“Am I disappointed? Yes. I am disappointed,” he says. “But look we got a highway bill. A highway bill absent Keystone is better than no highway bill at all.”

Baucus says the Keystone X-L pipeline project comes down to job creation for Montana and elsewhere and energy independence, “I think it’s a no brainer. It should be in there but it’s not. I’ll keep fighting for it.”

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