A Little Good News From Capitol Hill

If you've been keeping track of our blog, then you know that right now the US House and Senate are moving full steam ahead with a federal transportation bill. While advocates in the biking and walking community aren't crazy about the Senate bill, it is vastly better than the highly ideological House version (deemed by Sec. LaHood, "The worst transportation bill I've ever seen in 35 years of public service.").

All signs are that Massachusetts Representatives are ready to vote unanimously to kill the House bill, HR 7. (National opposition to the bill was so intense that House leadership has delayed the vote - see below.) We were even more excited to find out just yesterday that Senator Brown and Senator Kerry are co-sponsoring the Cardin-Cochran Amendment in the Senate, which would fix many of the problems in the Senate bill (more here). It is a profound statement to have the full Massachusetts delegation, on both sides of the aisle, stand up in full support of biking and walking. It is also a great sign that all the work we've been doing for years, with our advocacy partners, with Congress, and with our grassroots supporters is making a difference!

There are still a lot of moving pieces. On the House side:

  • According to Mass Transit, the White House recently issued a warning that if somehow the House Bill were to make it the President's desk, it would meet a veto.

  • Our national partners are also reporting that, because the House bill was so terrible that House leadership couldn't garner the votes to pass it, it has been broken up into three smaller bills. The transportation component won't be voted on until after President's Day (probably the week of February 27). (More info here.)

  • Even though the there is an amendment being introduced to restore bike funding in the House bill, killing the bill entirely is probably still the best option at this point.

On the Senate side:

  • The League of American Bicyclists reports that "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 heard that the Senators are hearing from more constituents about this amendment than any other transportation issue - so thanks to all of you for contacting them! Thanks to you, biking and walking is front and center in the debate over transportation funding. Thanks to you, we have a fighting chance to continue funding bike lanes, mountain bike trails, multi-use paths, child bike and pedestrian safety trainings, and the many other programs and projects that our tiny stream of federal money makes possible.

If you want to thank Senator Brown and Senator Kerry for their support, please do. And please consider supporting MassBike so that we can continue to make biking a priority in Massachusetts.

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