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Thune Fails to Get Own Party to Pass Multi-Year Highway Bill

Senator John Thune is the number-three man in the leadership of the majority party of the United States Senate. His party enjoys a larger majority in the Senate and just 2.5 percentage-point smaller majority in the House than Democrats had three Congri ago when Democrats got their poop in a group and got more done for more Americans (Fair Pay Act, stimulus, credit card reform, ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, don’t-ask-don’t-tell repeal, new START treaty) than any Congress since the 1960s. If John Thune really wants a multi-year Highway Bill, he ought to be able to get it.

He can’t get it:

With just a day to spare, Congress approved a stopgap measure to fund the federal highway program, sending President Barack Obama the legislation to avert a Friday shutdown of transportation projects nationwide.

The $8 billion bill will keep federal projects on track for the next three months, but the temporary nature of the fix creates a new crisis point in fall, as Congress has been unable to agree on a long-term solution [Lisa Mascaro, “Congress Approves Yet Another Short-Term highway Funding Bill,” Tribune News Service via Governing, 2015.07.31].

HR 3236 is the 34th stopgap highway funding bill in six years.

Good grief, John. You’re as bad as Kristi Noem on the Farm Bill. Maybe if you spent less time dinking around with futile votes to repeal ObamaCare and more time telling Senate and House Republicans to get their act together the way Dems in the 111th Congress did, you’d have your Highway Bill. All it takes is a desire to get things done and the ability to lead others to help you get things done.

But stopgap highway bills and other crumbs are what we get when we elect a Senator and a Republican Party who don’t believe in governing and only want to keep their seats from Democrats who really can get things done.


  1. SDBlue 2015-07-31 10:09

    It has been reported that 20% of South Dakota bridges are deemed structurally deficient. That is 1 in 5. Doesn’t give one a warm, fuzzy feeling traveling South Dakota roads, does it? I suspect it is hard for states to plan infrastructure repairs when the Feds can’t get their poop in a group and pass a long term funding resolution. The GOP is concerned with repealing the ACA and defunding Planned Parenthood. If they cannot attach those riders to must needed legislation, they take their ball and go home. We are at the mercy of mental midgets.

  2. Rorschach 2015-07-31 10:34

    If a bridge in Minnehaha County or in Sioux Falls needs to be rebuilt, why should the federal government fund it rather than the county or city? The federal government has assumed far too great a role in projects that should be prioritized by government officials at the state and local level and funded by taxpayers at the state and local level. When the federal government realizes this, we will have better federal roads, lower federal deficits, and better decision making by state and local officials about which roads and bridges are truly in need of repair using limited taxpayer funds. If dad cuts off the trust fund, the kids left only with their own resources might buy necessities rather than luxuries.

  3. Michael Wyland 2015-07-31 10:40

    To be fair, John Thune is a US Senator, and the US Senate *did* pass a long-term highway bill. It’s the US House that passed a short-term bill and then left town before the Senate passed its long-term bill. The Senate approved the House version solely to keep the funds flowing after July 31.

  4. Rorschach 2015-07-31 10:51

    Michael Wyland is right. The US House was so eager to get its August break started in July that it didn’t let work get in the way of its vacation plans. What’s Rep. Noem doing on her extended holiday? Barricading herself in a library reading all of those pending bills no doubt.

  5. jerry 2015-07-31 10:57

    Indeed, what has the dust bunny, NOem, been doing besides looking at her belly button? She is a wasted seat that has done nothing for South Dakota. She is always a vote for the repeal of the ACA though, so she is valuable to her party, but not her state.

  6. Porter Lansing 2015-07-31 10:59

    To those who so loudly heralded the overwhelming victory by capital “C” Conservatives in 2014 … “What’s the difference between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell in what’s been accomplished?” For the answer, stay tuned for the GREAT REPUBLICAN DEBATE – prime time in 5 days.

  7. Daniel Buresh 2015-07-31 11:41

    Teacher’s work 3.5 days per week.

  8. Owen 2015-07-31 12:12

    Thune isn’t a leader.

    Daniel. Where do u get the teachers only work 3.5 days a week?

  9. Dave 2015-07-31 12:23

    I just looked over at the War Toilet, and naturally Pat has papered the walls of his commode with press releases from Mike, Kristi, and John. John seems actually quite proud of how he’s managed to accomplish so little.

  10. Jenny 2015-07-31 12:33

    Owen, Daniel is including the summer months, but he’s probably not factoring in the hours spent grading homework, writing up teacher plans, shopping for school supplies and décor for their room that teachers do in their own time. Plus the times they need to call parents when a child has been disrespectful or has consistently bullied another kid. The meetings before and after that teachers go to involving principals, parents, teacher meetings, etc.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-31 13:04

    Daniel, every teacher in this state does more work for the people of South Dakota than John Thune. Don’t forget that, even on the days when he’s in Washington, he spends half of his time fundraising for the party. So Thune is actually doing his job maybe 2.5 days a week.

    Larry Pressler last year vowed not to do that. Our candidate against Thune should make the same promise: no fundraising at the D.C. phone bank until the next election year, instead on the job all day for the people of South Dakota.

  12. Loren 2015-07-31 13:11

    Thune is not actually “leadership”! He is just the tall, thin guy they pull out of the closet for photo ops to prove that the GOP is not just a bunch of old, fat, white guys! Between Thune’s tallness, Noem’s cowgirl jeans and Smilin’ Mike’s big grin, we have one heck of a photogenic delegation, eh?

  13. mike from iowa 2015-07-31 13:16

    When Marlboro Barbie Thune was in the minority,he worked like a Trojan to obstruct Obama’s legacy.He is not facing any serious challenge for his cushy seat-yet-so why worry if nothing gets done but depositing his un-earned largesse from the gubmint?

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-31 13:53

    Excuses, excuses. If Thune were serious, he and the Senate would have passed a workable Highway Bill 33 stopgap bills ago and handed it to the House well before their summer break. He’d have left himself plenty of time to confab with Kristi and tell her to pass word up the chain—no, forget that, just call Boehner up himself and say “WTF? Pass a bill already, or we’re coming over and stealing your bronzer!”

    Leadership means making it happen, not blaming failure on everyone else (ask Annette Bosworth). Do we have a Highway Bill? No. Thune owns that failure as much as anyone else in Washington.

    Evict his party, elect Democrats, I bet we get a Highway Bill… not that I want to wait and not that we should have to wait until 2017 to fix our roads and bridges.

    Maybe we could speed this process up by requiring Congress to drive home for August recess instead of flying.

  15. bob klein 2015-07-31 14:37

    looks like you scared some insects out of the woodwork by criticizing thune. should stick with obama.

  16. jeniw 2015-07-31 14:50

    I have a question, if the federal government should not be funding roads and bridges, should it be funding education?

    Should funding for education be the sole responsibility of the parents?

    What about the national parks? Should SD be responsible for Mt, Rushmore without federal dollars?

  17. Rorschach 2015-07-31 14:59

    If your question is for me, jeniw, the federal government should be funding interstates and federal roads. The state should be funding state highways. The counties should be funding county roads, and the cities should be funding city roads.

    By that same standard, the federal government should be funding national parks, the state government – state parks, cities – city parks. Get it?

    I’m a proponent of public education, jeniw. Does the federal government pay for that?

  18. Daniel Buresh 2015-07-31 15:16

    Owen, Jenny, Cory,

    My comment obviously wasn’t clear in pointing out the absurdity in judging a person’s value based on the number of work days. I used 180 days/52 weeks for teachers. I did that for the exact reason so I could see how fast someone was going to point out all the extra that they do, expecting me to feel sorry because supposedly they are the only career with such extra tasks in front of them. Many careers have certs and continued learning, some even more aggressive than teachers. My job procedures can change over night with technology and we are on the hook to stay ahead of the game. Therefore, your comments only reinforce my point that no one is going to jump to that same offense for any other career, especially a politician. Even I know suggesting politicians only work 2.5 days is ridiculous. It’s just as absurd as suggesting teachers work 3.5 days. Carry on.

  19. Rorschach 2015-07-31 15:26

    Of course, Daniel Buresh, for every 2.5 days congress members work and accomplish nothing they have to spend another 1 day raising money from special interests for their next election and another 1 day trying to either convince the home folks they did something or simply distracting the home folks by talking about what they want to do. So congress members actually occupy 4.5 days/week but very little of that is of any use to their employer – the taxpayer.

  20. Jenny 2015-07-31 16:30

    Thune is sittin’ on eleven million dollars of Campaign money so he could afford to scrap one of his scheduled lobbying gig days.

  21. leslie 2015-07-31 17:41

    daniel, bk-“do more for more americans”.

    thune, noem nor rounds don’t.

    we rarely talk about obama here. it is crystal clear that the catastrophic, preceding republican, “daddy’s baseball” president is lucky to have had this extremely competent, focused, educated democratic president keep him out of jail and repair the country against all odds.

    defend these republican records. you are a tough guy. we attack rounds, noem and thune all the time. that’s the only reason you and bk are here.

    rounds is already one of the wealthiest people in congress, as pointed out here before.

    these three intend to come out of public service as multi-millionairs and more, at south dakota residents’ expense. they don’t work hard and they don’t care about anybody in the state but “you”, at least the you on your superior career path that hangs in the balance of your staying at the top of the heap. i am certain the thousands of underpaid teachers feel your pain. have you been to DC? Do you watch these three on youtube? Do you know any teachers?

    you are just lashing out at detractors of your chosen lifestyle hoping to become a 1%’er yourself, as a republican. there might be therapy for that as a science denier. Notice any stand noem, rounds or thune have taken to deal w/ climate change?

    anybody that is a professional works as hard or harder than you, especially teachers. their careers, i would argue are more important than those of private lawyers and engineers whose salaries are not at the mercy of the political and critical public. shouldn’t they make what medical support staff make?

    “carry on”…”insects”? ever heard of humility? psssft

  22. jerry 2015-07-31 20:47

    Here is what Tehran John, EB5 Rounds and the Dust Bunny, NOem are working on. Killing the VA. Count on these three crooks and liars to do their damnedest for their money train, the Koch brothers, to privatize the Veterans Administration. They may get it done because veterans get all flag wavy and forget who it is that hates them. Here is the plan.

    Highway bill is really not real to them. Real eyes, realize the real lies told to them.

  23. MOSES 2015-07-31 21:31

    Never mind this The phot op express is getting ready to go the fairs, plus basketball season right around the corner.

  24. Owen 2015-07-31 22:05

    “I did that for the exact reason so I could see how fast someone was going to point out all the extra that they do, expecting me to feel sorry because supposedly they are the only career with such extra tasks in front of them. Many careers have certs and continued learning, some even more aggressive than teachers.”

    I don’t disagree with you Daniel, but what are the wages for the other careers and what are those careers?

  25. Troy 2015-08-01 15:58


    Did you really just criticize the GOP for a stop-gap measure? When the Dems controlled Congress and the White House, they didn’t pass a single Department Appropriations bill. And, when the controlled the Senate but not the House, they didn’t get one out of the Senate. Wow.

  26. larry kurtz 2015-08-01 19:28

    John Thune is the Joe McCarthy of our era: why his agenda survives is a testament to the power of lust.

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