Latest on federal transportation bill

Here is a roundup of what is going on with the renewal of the federal transportation bill in Congress.

Thursday the Senate bill passed its first legislative hurdle by a bipartisan vote of 85-11.  That clears the way for debate and a final vote on the bill. The bill still has some severe problems for bicycling and walking programs and funding, but an amendment sponsors by Senators Cardin and Cochran promises to address the worst ot the problems.  According to Streetsblog:

The pursuit of bipartisan support has been a hallmark of Boxer’s reauthorization efforts, even more than any specific policy goals. Before today’s vote was held, she expressed her hope for more than the 60 votes necessary to move forward, and in the end she received broad support from across the aisle.

Meanwhile, the House transportation bill, which tends to draw descriptions along the lines of "terrible," "horrible," and "abyssmal," appears to be dead on arrival.  It is debatable whether House Leadership can even round up the votes to pass the bill in the House, and it stands no chance in the Senate.  According to Grist:

[T]he ever growing list of opponents now includes conservative stalwarts such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Club for Growth. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman, told Politico, “It’s the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen during 35 years of public service.”

The Hill adds:

The political right and left have attacked the legislation, and even Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is making no bold predictions that he can cobble together the 218 votes needed for passage.

Conservatives claim the bill is an unaffordable boondoggle, while Democrats and prominent centrist Republicans such as Rep. Peter King (N.Y.) say it would gut funding for public transportation, bike paths and pedestrians.

Rachel Ruhlen writing in the Kirksville Daily Express explains the situation in the Senate:

The version that is in the Senate Transportation Committee is better but has some significant problems. A bipartisan-sponsored amendment will restore Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements, and another amendment will restore Recreational Trails Program. These are scheduled for a vote on Monday, Feb. 13. Contact Senators Blunt and McCaskill todayand ask them to vote for the Cardin-Cochran Amendment and the Klobuchar Amendment. (The text provided at the link only mentions the Cardin-Cochran Amendment so be sure to add in the Klobuchar Amendment.)

More information about Senator Klobuchar's amendment to restore Recreational Trails Funding is here.

Vote on amendments in the Senate, including the important Cardin-Cochran Amendment, should proceed this week but we do not know the exact timetable.

See MoBikeFed's Advocacy Alert on this issue here.

Share this:

Want better bicycling and walking in Missouri?
We rely on the support of members like you.  Please join, renew, or donate today.