The Highway Lobby vs. Partisan Politics

Not so long ago, when Democrats and Republicans more easily found areas of accord, transportation funding received ready support from both parties.

After all, highway and bridge construction can improve infrastructure, add local jobs and provide elected representatives with concrete examples of their ability to secure federal funds for the home district. Such spending is typically backed by unions and business.

Yet in the current climate, with many conservatives calling for smaller government, bipartisan support for the bill has dissipated.

Although the Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion measure in March, House Republicans haven’t embraced the Senate version. In the meantime, as party leaders wrangle, federal funding for transportation projects is set to expire on June 30.

The good news may be that you won’t spend as much time in construction-related traffic jams this summer. The bad news is that you may blow a tire or two next winter when you drive through potholes.

For the many powerful groups and industries that lobby for transportation funding, a prolonged impasse is only bad news.

First Street data shows that nearly 700 organizations lobbied the Senate transportation bill this year.

The list of top lobby clients is headed by the group that spends more than any other in Washington – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which sent a letter Monday to members of the conference committee considering the measure, urging passage.

The table below shows groups lobbying the bill that have spent $100,000 or more this year. The expenditures include efforts aimed at the highway bill as well as other issues.

The big spenders include not only transportation-oriented interests, such as FedEx and UPS, but energy companies, manufacturers and unions.

Groups such as the Transportation Construction Coalition, which is not a registered lobby client, have waged public relations campaigns for approval. (The group is co-chaired by two major lobby groups – the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of America.)

The coalition launched an ad blitz last week targeting four members of the conference committee negotiating a new bill: Dave Camp (R-MI), James Lankford (R-OK), Steve Southerland (R-FL) and Pat Tiberi (R-OH).

While several environmental groups have argued against the original House proposal, urging greater support for mass transit and bike lanes and exclusion of Keystone pipeline funding, the real obstacle is not environmental, but political.

Perhaps even more than Gov. Scott Walker’s recent victory in Wisconsin, the transportation bill blockade illustrates the continuing clout of the Tea Party and anti-tax crusaders such as Grover Norquist.

It’s also yet another sign of intense polarization on Capitol Hill. Republicans and Democrats can’t agree, even when the do agree, even when lobbyists and campaign contributors want them to agree.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, observed in April, “America’s one big pothole right now.”

We’re pretty sure he was describing America’s infrastructure, not its leadership.

Here’s the list of major groups lobbying on the transportation bill:

Organization 2012 spending
Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A. $20,200,000
National Association of Realtors $6,060,000
General Electric Company $5,680,000
Verizon Communications Inc. and Its Subsidiaries $4,510,000
Exxon Mobil Corp $4,357,500
Lockheed Martin Corporation $4,000,000
United Technologies Corporation $3,870,000
Pfizer, Inc $3,550,000
Edison Electric Institute $3,500,000
Shell Oil Company $3,440,000
Chevron U.S.A. Inc. $3,240,000
FedEx Corporation $3,182,525
General Motors Company $2,842,500
Business Roundtable $2,830,000
Association of American Railroads $2,640,504
Amgen Inc. $2,630,000
American Bankers Association $2,500,000
American Chemistry Council $2,440,000
Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC $2,390,000
Altria Client Services Inc. $2,320,000
Duke Energy Corporation $2,260,000
National Education Association $2,252,514
Textron Inc. $2,170,000
CBS Corporation $2,160,000
Norfolk Southern Corporation $1,987,500
AARP $1,950,000
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers $1,840,300
Prudential Financial Inc. $1,790,000
American Petroleum Institute $1,770,000
Ford Motor Company $1,770,000
Caterpillar Inc. $1,730,000
National Assn of Manufacturers $1,730,000
BNSF Railway Company $1,710,000
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc $1,570,000
UPS $1,476,280
American Council of Life Insurers $1,469,200
Qualcomm, Incorporated $1,330,000
National Grid USA $1,280,000
Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association $1,270,000
Chrysler Group, LLC $1,267,023
New York Life Insurance Company $1,240,000
E. I. Du Pont DE Nemours & Co. $1,229,421
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation $1,195,000
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company $1,170,000
Exelon Business Services, LLC $1,160,000
Investment Company Institute $1,144,013
Peabody Investments Corp. $1,120,000
Managed Funds Association $1,110,000
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company $1,108,900
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company $1,070,000
Union Pacific Corporation $1,050,535
3M Company $1,020,000
Nissan North America, Inc. $1,010,000
Time Warner Cable Inc. $987,000
AFL-CIO $961,625
Pacific Gas and Electric Company $920,000
Toyota Motor North America, Inc. $900,000
Weyerhaeuser Company $880,000
American Association for Justice $820,000
Progress Energy Service Company, LLC $820,000
Xcel Energy, Inc $800,000
Principal Financial Group $785,000
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association $770,000
American Forest & Paper Association $770,000
Anheuser-Busch Companies $760,000
Nuclear Energy Institute, Inc $755,000
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc. $750,000
Canadian National Railway Company $750,000
Cummins Inc. $747,578
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association $721,000
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees $720,000
National Retail Federation $720,000
State Farm Insurance Companies $720,000
National Automobile Dealers Association $710,000
Arcelormittal USA LLC $700,000
Baxter Healthcare Corporation $697,500
Usec, Inc $690,000
American Council of Engineering Companies $688,037
Mortgage Bankers Association $684,000
Honda North America $650,509
Hartford Financial Services Group $650,000
American Farm Bureau Fed $640,000
Centerpoint Energy, Inc. $630,000
Marathon Petroleum Corporation $630,000
NFIB $620,000
American Dental Association $610,000
Cox Enterprises Inc $610,000
Mortgage Insurance Companies of America $600,000
National Electrical Manufacturers Association $600,000
ITC Holdings Corp. $590,000
American Association of Airport Executives $570,697
American Public Transportation Association $530,000
Dte Energy $520,000
Nucor Public Affairs, Inc. $510,000
American Civil Liberties Union $507,603
Chesapeake Energy Corporation $490,000
Ameren Services $480,000
Cms Energy Corp $480,000
Lorillard Tobacco Company $480,000
International Association of MacHinists and Aerospace Workers $470,000
Spectra Energy $467,425
American Nurses Association $454,438
National Propane Gas Association $450,000
National Multi Housing Council, Inc. $443,000
United Transportation Union $440,155
Association of Global Automakers, Inc. $440,000
Eaton Corporation $440,000
Deere & Company $430,000
Midamerican Energy Holdings Company $422,832
United States Steel Corporation $420,000
American Benefits Council $413,266
Ameriprise Financial, Inc. $410,000
Alliant Techsystems, Inc $390,000
Puget Sound Energy $390,000
Hilton Worldwide $380,000
Con-Way Inc $370,000
Growth Energy, Inc. $360,000
Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc $360,000
Airports Council International — North America $343,332
Friends Committee on National Legislation $342,955
El Paso Corporation $330,000
The Fertilizer Institute $325,987
The Nature Conservancy $320,000
Americans for Tax Reform $310,000
The Babcock & Wilcox Company $310,000
Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, Inc $310,000
Bombardier Transit Corp. $308,500
Bridgestone Americas Inc. $300,000
Waterways Council, Inc. $300,000
Xerox Corporation $300,000
PPG Industries, Inc $292,653
Pepco Holdings, Inc. $290,000
Waste Management, Inc. $290,000
American Motorcyclist Association $287,773
American Federation of Teachers $285,458
Devon Energy Production Company, L.P. $280,000
Peabody Energy $280,000
Solar Energy Industries Association $280,000
Michelin North America, Inc. $275,000
Fluor Corporation $270,526
CF Industries, Inc $270,000
Whirlpool Corporation $270,000
Daimler/Mercedes-Benz USA $260,000
Yum! Brands, Inc. $260,000
Blue Green Alliance $258,000
American Iron and Steel Institute $256,055
American Bar Association $250,000
American Society of Civil Engineers $250,000
Building and Construction Trades Dept., AFL-CIO $250,000
Volvo Group North America, LLC $250,000
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives $248,124
Masco Corporation $240,000
Nisource, Inc $240,000
NAIOP $239,437
Transportation Communications International Union/Iam $230,000
University of California $230,000
University of Southern California $230,000
Healthcare Leadership Council $220,000
Portland Cement Association $220,000
The Erisa Industry Committee $220,000
Transportation Intermediaries Association $220,000
University of Illinois $220,000
Laborers’ International Union of North America $212,248
Cobank, Acb $210,000
CSX Corporation $210,000
Genesee & Wyoming Inc. $210,000
National Beer Wholesalers Association $210,000
Organization for International Investment $210,000
Enterprise Holdings, Inc. $201,000
Praxair, Inc. $200,000
International Brotherhood of Teamsters $191,000
National Wildlife Federation $190,000
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO $190,000
UBS Americas, Inc. $190,000
Wisconsin Energy Corporation $190,000
Financial Executives International $187,500
Smart Growth America $185,000
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association $182,455
United Steel, Paper & Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy… $180,000
American Heart Association $175,818
National Treasury Employees Union $171,309
Northwestern Univ $171,000
Louisiana Energy Services $170,000
NCR Corporation $170,000
American Road & Transportation Builders Association $165,000
American Public Works Association $160,000
Areva Enrichment Services LLC $160,000
Equifax, Inc $160,000
Lafarge North America Inc. $160,000
Salt River Project $160,000
Starbucks Corporation $160,000
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. $155,182
Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC $152,000
Honeywell International $150,000
Agricultural Retailers Association $140,000
National Corn Growers Assn $140,000
United Services Automobile Association $136,870
Clean Energy Fuels Corp $135,000
Rai Services Company $135,000
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund $131,397
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. $130,000
Ingersoll Rand $130,000
International Union of Operating Engineers $130,000
Travelport Operations, Inc. $130,000
Rubber Manufacturers Association $127,000
Owens-Illinois, Inc $125,000
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety $121,729
Continental Tire / Automotive North America $120,000
Covanta Energy Corporation $120,000
Electric Drive Transportation Association $120,000
National Utility Contractors Association $120,000
The Timken Company $119,650
AK Steel Holding Corporation $117,015
American Gas Association $110,000
Greyhound Lines, Inc. $110,000
Institute of Makers of Explosives $110,000
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades $110,000
Kansas Farm Bureau $110,000
The Trustees of Purdue University $110,000
University of Connecticut $110,000
Manufactured Housing Institute $107,438
National Parks Conservation Association $103,505
National Right to Life Committee $101,698
Natural Resources Defense Council $100,200
Illinois Agricultural Association $100,000


  1. […] in comparison to legislation such as Trade Bills, Cybersecurity/Privacy, Farm Legislation and Transportation Issues, the new attention that the ADA is receiving could mean that potential changes to the bill will […]

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