Highway Bill Saga Continues
Today, we wrote to League members and supporters in a few key House districts to ask for their help in getting the votes needed to pass the Petri/Johnson amendment. This is the same amendment (see fact sheet) to restore dedicated bike/pedestrian funding that was narrowly defeated in Committee two weeks ago, and which has now been offered again as the bill moves to the floor of the House. We are expecting that vote as early as Wednesday, but it could get moved to later in the week.
We remain opposed to the overall bill, H.R. 7, because of its regressive attacks on transit, environmental protections, planning and bicycling. If you did not receive an e-mail from me to take action, please do so here. However, our bipartisan champions in the House want to send a clear message to the House leadership and Chairman Mica that dedicated funding for bicycling and walking programs are an essential part of a balanced national transportation system – and that these are cost-effective, job-creating programs that give local elected officials access to transportation funds that are otherwise out of their control.
This message of support for bicycling and walking needs to be heard loud and clear. If the House bill passes with the amendment, it strengthens our hand as the House and Senate bills are “conferenced” to come up with a single bill. If the House bill fails, passing the Petri/Johnson amendment strengthens our hand in the inevitable “extension” debate that follows: the current program expires on March 31 and must be re-written or extended by that time. There is a fear that another extension will not be clean, i.e. Congress won’t simply keep the existing program as is, they will start to play with the programs and funding.
Over on the Senate side, the bipartisan Cardin-Cochran amendment is gathering support to restore dedicated bike/ped funding and preserve local control over this small sliver of transportation funding. We are hearing that MAP-21, the Senate bill, won’t now make it to the floor until the week of February 27. We will keep you posted.
One thing remains constant: your voice matters. Individual calls, e-mails and visits to Congressional offices really do make a difference. This is an election year, after all, for every member of the House of Representatives. Use our on-line advocacy tools to contact your Members of Congress, but remember that next week most members will be in their home districts and states – waiting for your visit; and March 20-22nd we can help you schedule a visit as part of the National Bike Summit here in Washington, D.C.