The week of Feb. 14th was supposed to be the beginning of the House and Senate debate on their respective transportation bills. As usual, the schedule for floor action has slipped some, but the past two weeks has been full of lots of debate and maneuvering over the bills. As a result of the firestorm of opposition against the House proposal to eliminate dedicated funding for transit, the House leadership announced that they were dropping that provision and plan to scale the 5-year bill back to possibly 18 months. No revised bill has been put forward, but we hear that the other objectionable provisions will remain--elimination of programs for safe walking and biking, favoring highway construction over other modes, taking away local control, and raising revenues through oil drilling, just to name a few. It is unclear when the House leadership plans to bring a revised bill to the floor.
On the Senate side, their 2-year transportation bill has actually been on the Senate floor this week. Did you know that yesterday's contraception vote was actually an amendment to the transportation bill?? Hopefully, the Senate will now begin to consider actual transportation amendments to the bill. The key vote we're tracking is consideration of the bipartisan Cardin-Cochran amendment that will give local communities greater control over bike/ped funding. The BoCC, the MPO Board, and BikeWalkLee have all sent letters to Senators Nelson and Rubio urging them to support this amendment. Click here to read these letters. BikeWalkLee, BoCC (MPO sent same letter on 2/17)
The current transportation authorization expires on March 31st so Congress needs to take some action this month. We'll keep you posted on our blog and Facebook page, so watch for updates and action alerts!
Report by Darla Letourneau