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Ways and Means panel delays Oberstar’s transportation bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Ways and Means Committee has decided to focus on health care instead of this year’s massive transportation overhaul bill, putting a significant crimp in Rep.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Ways and Means Committee has decided to focus on health care instead of this year’s massive transportation overhaul bill, putting a significant crimp in Rep. Jim Oberstar’s plan to pass major legislation by this fall, according to The Hill.

Oberstar, who chairs the Transportation Committee, recently introduced a sweeping $500 billion highway bill that would make unprecedented changes to the nation’s transportation system. He has insisted that it be passed before the current bill expires at the end of September.

But significant questions over funding and a crammed legislative calendar — featuring health care, climate change and financial regulation — has proved problematic for the Minnesota Democrat’s plans.

“You have to believe me. Everything I am doing is health, health and health,” Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., told The Hill.

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The Hill reported that others on the panel had doubts about whether the committee, which would have to work out the tax measures for Oberstar’s bill, had time for another large piece of legislation in addition to health care.

“It’s fair to say the priority of the House Ways and Means Committee is health-care reform, not the highway bill,” Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., told The Hill.