Paul  Weyrich

Speaking of the Commission's minority, Geddes supported many of our recommendations and joined us at the TRB presentation and on the panel testifying before Congress. The other two dissenters, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and former Commission Chairman Maria Cino, would not testify. They insisted on being first. The Committee said no, they were in the minority and should testify after the majority. Our majority, by the way, was truly bipartisan - five Republicans and four Democrats signing the report. So no Mary Peters. The media made less of this than I expected. I made the point both at our press conference and at the Committee hearing that regardless of who wins the Presidential election we are bound to have a new Secretary of Transportation who takes a broader view than Peters and this Administration.

Because Members had seven votes on the House Floor, we had an extraordinary number wanting to ask us questions. I thought we might be there for three days. Having been liberated, as Chairman Oberstar suggested, by virtue of having no more votes for the week, all but a handful of Members on both sides of the aisle remained. We were pleased to reply to their questions. It was fine with me because it gave me the opportunity to get to know the Chairman better.

What I feared would be an unpleasant experience, as were other times when I testified before Congress, turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. That was due to the Chairman and a couple of the Minority Members. Look for our Commission report to be taken seriously as Congress explores the highway and transit programs which expire in September of 2009. We have yet to hear from the Senate. Hearings in that body are to be on the last day of January. I would be surprised if Senators would be more serious about our report. But one never knows. It would be nice if both the House and the Senate would co-operate with each other instead of playing one-upsmanship. One only can hope!

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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