Guestposter Bob von Sternberg on the transportation chairman’s victory lap

June 25th, 2007 – 3:22 PM by D.J. Tice

Political reporter von Sternberg says Rep. Oberstar dwelt mainly on what he and the Democratic majority have accomplished:

vonste.jpgIt was billed as another high-minded Humphrey Institute forum over the lunch hour Monday, carrying the portentous title, “Transportation Policy and America’s oberstar.jpgFuture.”

The event was to showcase the thoughts of DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar, the 17-term dean of Minnesota’s congressional delegation and the powerful chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In fact, the hour-long session at the University of Minnesota was something of a victory lap by Oberstar after the opening months of the 110th Congress. He reveled in his use of the levers of power, touted how much has actually been accomplished, and backhanded the erstwhile Republican majority for its do-nothing ways.

“With the position I’m in now, I’m chairman and I can make this happen,” Oberstar said in so many words more than once, his face lit up with a smile.

If there was any doubt just how important the transportation committee is as a legislative gateway, he pointed out that it’s a primary way-station for $80 billion in federal spending “that moves America.”

He ticked off bills that already have cleared the committee, gone on to be passed by the full House or are still being negotiated with the Senate. Among them, implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s transporation recommendation, a rail transportation security bill, the water resources development act, the surface transportation bil, and the water resources bill.

“We’ve had 28 bills pass the House, which is more than in the full two years of the 109th Congress,” Oberstar said.

Oberstar took particular delight in prying loose a revolving loan fund for building sewage treatment plants around the country.

“That bill was delayed – Tom DeLayed – he wasn’t going to let it happen. But he’s gone.”

And Obserstar said he was especially proud that the Department of Energy’s department headquarters in Washington will be outfitted with an array of photovoltaic cells by year’s end, an energy conservation idea he’d taken up 20 years ago as a young congressman.

“I’m chairman now,” he said. “I can do that. And I did.”

Bob von Sternberg

14 Responses to "Guestposter Bob von Sternberg on the transportation chairman’s victory lap"

parthian says:

June 25th, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Um…these are some real accomplishments, Oberstar should be proud of them and there’s nothing wrong with that that I can see.

And the Repub House of Hastert and Delay DID fail to move all of them.

Justin C. Adams says:

June 25th, 2007 at 5:11 pm

Yeah, parthian.

Too bad Sabo retired. His chairmanship (wasn’t it ways and means) would have been nice to have too.

parthian says:

June 25th, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Exactly, Justin. A real shame.

Good Government, public interest Minnesotans would have been running two of the biggest, most crucial committees in Congress.

But at least we have one!

Jay says:

June 26th, 2007 at 3:23 pm

Actually, parthian, we do have two. Peterson is chairman of the ag committee. Although he is DFL, he’s not quite liberal enough to garner the love from many in his own party, which is tragic. This example is a great illustration of that phenomenon.

Cash N. Carey says:

June 26th, 2007 at 7:02 pm

Of the 28 that have been passed by the house, how many have been passed by the Senate? It is easy to send something off knowing that it will never become law. Oberstar is one of the house members that refuses to reveal his earmarks.

Nice teeth Jim.

parthian says:

June 26th, 2007 at 7:38 pm

“not garner[ed} the his own party, which is tragic".

You have a pretty low threshhold for tragedy, jay. But I did forget he was Ag chair.

Sounds like he's already boned up the Farm Bill, though.

Cash, you don't know one thing about the parallel bills in the senate, yet you baselessly imply that all these bills have been passed "knowing that [they] will never become law”.

What appalling intellectual dishonesty. But it’s amusing to see “conservatives” irritated simply by actual progress on legislation in Congress—so much for really being concerned about the country.

And how many MN Repubs revealed their earmarks? says:

June 26th, 2007 at 8:24 pm

Oberstar used to represent my district (6th), and was endorsed by the NRA because of his views on people’s right to protect themselves.

I’m sure he’s a true liberal and did this against his will for political survival, but it’s interesting.

I wonder how he feels about the massive invasion of illegals?

Jay says:

June 27th, 2007 at 9:15 am

My thoughts are just the opposite, dare2…..I think Oberstar is generally a pretty socially conservative leaning guy. But his district includes Duluth and the Iron Range so he needed to embrace unions and labor for political survival.

Jay says:

June 27th, 2007 at 9:21 am

parthian: “You have a pretty low threshhold for tragedy, jay.”

All a matter of perspective, I guess. I think the fact that a good public servant, who acts in the best interests of the peopel he represents, and as a result often times gets crapped on by those in his own party because he’s not marching in lock-step with 100% of that party’s agenda, is the root of what is wrong with this system.

badenadam says:

June 27th, 2007 at 11:52 am

To clarify, Cash,
I was at the event and Oberstar went into “encyclopedic detail” (to quote the event’s moderator Larry Jacobs) describing the new ear mark policy his committee has been delighted to follow. Each addition to any bill has to be signed off and declared by the congressperson who writes it in.

And for the record, Oberstar is anti-gun control and adamantly pro-life.

parthian says:

June 27th, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Oh, don’t burden Cash with the actual facts of the Dems new earmark rules, badenadam.

He’s just bringing earmarks up because it was highlighted in his latest RNC email-tree blast.

As though Repubs, under whom earmark abuse exploded, would really have reformed it had they remained in charge, or as if they are doing more than Dems to open the practice to greater scrutiny.

Les says:

June 27th, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Farm Bill,,, You mean that one that he insists should keep paying multi million subsidies to the “Millonaire Big Farmers” at the expense of the family farmers.

I cringed as I listened to the Minnesotan defend those subsidies on MPR after his Senate counterpart condemned the practices and wanted to limit subsidies to 325 thou a year.

Guess it depends on which corportation you kow tow to, huh? Exxon, bad Goper, ADM, Hey… GOOD DFLer!!!!

John E Iacono says:

July 1st, 2007 at 12:57 pm

So Jim represents his constituency in his thinking. What surprise. Probably has something to do with his having been in Washington since before many of his constituents were born.

And he toots his horn for all the bills now passed in his part of the Federal legislative branch. NO politician has ever done THAT, of course.

If you like his approach, have a good time. If not, think about changing the minds of his constituents. After all, he represents their thinking, and they have a right to be heard in Washington.

It’s the American way.

John E Iacono says:

July 1st, 2007 at 1:06 pm

Remember, however, who he was talking to: The Humphrey Institute. And who was doing the reporting: the Strib.

Perhaps a little more “ALL the facts” content might have been in order in the reporting.

This is a place where open-minded critical thinkers of all political persuasions encounter information and arguments that both support and challenge their preconceptions. The goal is not to eliminate differences but to narrow and clarify them. We begin with a bedrock agreement that the search for insight and clarity is important, serious - and fun.

We ask commenters to be civil and substantive and, if possible, good humored. We reserve the right to delete comments that disregard this request.

Follow The Big Question on Twitter Do you use Twitter? Follow The Big Question.