Federal transportation bill--we're seeing some movement in the House and the Senate, how you can help

What's up with the Federal Transportation Bill--known as MAP-21 in the Senate--which will set federal transportation policy and funding for the next several years?

Thanks to the work of many of you in calling our Senators, the key bike/ped amendment, Cardin-Cochran, was accepted by Transportation Committee leaders into the main text of the bill now before the Senate.

Missouri delegation to the National Bike Summit
Missouri delegation to the National Bike Summit

Last week, MAP-21 came to a vote for "cloture" in the Senate--basically an agreement on how much time to spend on amendments to the bill, and which amendments to accept.  The two parties were not in agreement about how many and which amendments to allow, so that vote failed.

However, within a day or two, Senate leadership of both parties worked out a deal.  So now MAP-21 is moving forward through the amendment process.

The House bill fell apart, but House leadership is now trying to come up with a new bill that can garner enough votes to pass the House.

Some transportation experts see the chances of passing a bill before the election as dim, but with all the action happening this week, we will see!  

Almost certainly, debate on the bills will still be going on as the delegation from Missouri visits Washington, DC, next week to participate in the National Bike Summit.

In the Senate bill, there are still a number of important bike/ped issues that need to be resolved--mostly through amendments.   That means contacting our Senators in support of these amendments is still important.  Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists lists the issues:

Inclusion of Cardin-Cochran in MAP-21 is a really big deal.Thanks to the outpouring of support for the bipartisan amendment that was heard loud and clear in every Senate office, Senate leaders took this welcome step late Friday, and it truly is a testament to the value and influence of effective grassroots action, a strong Capitol Hill presence, and timely input from local elected officials and business leaders. Thank you to everyone who called and wrote; and thanks to Senators Cardin and Cochran who were wiling to step up and make this possible.

As with any bill this size, there are still a few things that we’d have the Senate fix in MAP-21 that haven’t yet been addressed by the amended version. Two that stand out, and which may yet be the subject of debate and votes on the Senate floor, are the sidepath provision and the Klobuchar amendment.

The proposed mandatory sidepath law on federal landsremains in the bill. We’re working closely with Senators Jeff Merkley and Al Franken to remove or amend this section to make it less onerous (not to mention that it is unnecessary, groundless, impractical and inequitable to boot) and preserve our rights to the road in our Federal lands. Take action.

The Klobuchar amendment would go beyond Cardin-Cochran and preserve the recreational trails program pretty much as is – complete with its own revenue stream from ORV fuel taxes. This would be a big boost to our friends at IMBA, for whom this is a critical program. Take action.

For those of you with bandwidth remaining, check out other actions and amendments being tracked by Transportation for America – and, of course, come to the National Bike Summit, March 20-22, to get the very latest information and to play your part in our great democracy, in person.

Transportation for American has an amendment tracker that includes all key amendments to the Transportation Bill.

Find contact information for your Senators here, or click on Andy's Take Action links above.