ScarJoe is whining about the prospect of merging alcohol reform with transportation funding, because he doesn’t want alcohol reform to pass. He knows that he and most other Republicans would end up voting for it if it was tied to transportation funding, and probably not otherwise:
“I think that that is a showing of bad faith and quite frankly, I think that people are sick of Washington-style politics,” Mr. Scarnati said. “I’m not going to play the game. I want transportation done. It should rise and fall on its own merits.”
There are a number of issues like this where you can’t get a majority of the Republican caucus or a majority of the Democratic caucus, but if you combined some of these issues into one big bill you could get a nice sloppy cross-partisan deal done.
For instance, voters in urban and suburban areas really want some kind of gun safety legislation. Democrats and Republicans who represent those districts could, mathematically speaking, put together a majority vote for a bill. But Republicans are afraid of primary challenges from the right, so they won’t go for it.
Likewise, voters in urban and suburban areas really like alcohol reform, and want a less nutty market for booze. Democrats and Republicans who represent those districts could form a majority vote for that, but Democrats in those areas are afraid of union-backed primary challenges. And over on the far left and right poles of the parties, people would like to get marijuana legalization done.
What’s really needed to make progress on these issues is some good old-fashioned “Washington-style politics” that wraps all this up into a Controlled Substance Reform bill. A big cross-partisan bill would get a lot of praise in the media because the press is obsessed with seeing the parties work together, and this would help shield legislators from interest group-backed primaries.