All Politics is Local

Herrera Beutler’s tolling amendment fails to move forward

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, proposed an amendment last year intended to prevent Oregon from using federal funding to establish tolls.

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to enter into an agreement for the establishment or collection of tolls on Interstate Route 5 or Interstate Route 205 in the State of Oregon or Washington,” the amendment read.

Herrera Beutler’s amendment failed to make it into the final omnibus budget approved by Congress Thursday. The bill funds the federal government through September 30. She said it failed to garner support in the U.S. Senate.

“It’s a disappointment, but I am not going to give up on this issue,” she said on the U.S. House floor Thursday. “It’s a raw deal for hardworking Washingtonians whose jobs happen to be located across the river.”

She added that it’s critical that Oregon come up with a solution that benefits both sides of the river.

It is worth noting Herrera Beutler’s amendment would only impact funding for the fiscal year 2018. Oregon plans to submit its value pricing proposal to the Federal Highway Administration by Dec. 31, meaning the amendment wouldn’t actually have an impact on Oregon’s plan — whatever it may be.

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Update: Herrera Beutler’s Communications Director Angeline Riesterer disagrees that the amendment was effectively symbolic.

Her statement: “Jaime’s amendment certainly would have disrupted Oregon’s tolling scheme, which is why ODOT worked so hard to kill it. ODOT and state officials lobbied hard to successfully unite the entire Oregon congressional delegation, Republican and Democrat, to actively oppose Jaime’s amendment and clear the way for tolling. Without Jaime’s amendment, nothing is stopping Oregon from racing to seek federal approval before Washington citizens and businesses can mobilize effective opposition. Additionally, once a prohibition like Jaime’s is in law, it’s not difficult to extend – which was her intent if Oregon continued to pursue a plan that treats Washington commuters as piggybanks.”

Katy Sword

I cover the city of Vancouver and federal politics. Reach me at katy.sword@columbian.com.

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