The Political Fireworks of the CRomnibus
If you believe the explosive manufacturers lobby, you might think the federal government wants to ruin the Fourth of July. The lobby, represented by the Institute of Makers of Explosives (IME), argues that burdensome regulations are keeping vehicles off the road that should be delivering fireworks to your Independence Day celebration.
The industry contends that these rules put many drivers out of service, and there were few alternatives to transport fireworks and other explosives. To save the holiday, Rep. Charlie Dent (R – Pa.) successfully included a rider in the so-called “CRomnibus,” a must-pass appropriations bill approved by Congress this weekend, to help ensure firework availability.
Prior to Dent’s action, Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP) holders needed a satisfactory safety rating and to meet a fitness metric based on out-of-service and crash violations. Once the bill is signed into law, HMSP holders – including the people that ship explosives – can stay on the road even if their vehicles don’t meet federal standards because of this provision.
Having a dynamite ally in Rep. Dent is no coincidence for the IME. Dent has taken over $33,000 from explosive manufacturers since the 2010 election cycle, according to Every Voice analysis of data from the Sunlight Foundation. The IME has also spent over $1 million since 2012 lobbying Congress on a variety of bills. Dent, in fact, has been working to change this regulation since the spring.
This isn’t the only “rider” that benefits a certain industry. One was even literally written by Citigroup. That’s in addition to a provision that’ll allow the biggest donors in politics to write even bigger checks to political parties. These things aren’t unrelated. Big donors write big checks, get their preferred policies, and Congress gives them an opportunity to give even more.
With Charlie Dent’s provision, that could mean more questionable (and possibly dangerous) trucks on the road. We should keep big money out of transportation safety. Let’s work to make the Fourth of July safe: both on the road and at the barbecue.