While members of Congress have been back in their districts meeting with constituents, House transportation committee staff has been huddled in Washington working on a transportation bill. You may recall that in July, the Senate completed action on its version of the transportation bill but the House instead pushed to extend current transportation law a few more months.
At this point we expect the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to consider a transportation bill in mid-September—with the bill possibly being considered by the full House of Representatives by the end of September. While a funding solution for transportation still appears to be a ways off, the House appears to want to lock down the policy.
Thus far, negotiators are keeping quiet about what is in the bill and what is out. However, we are concerned given how vocal the most conservative members of the Committee are about wanting to eliminate the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). Plus, Chairman Shuster is reported to be looking to increase funding for things like bridge repair and freight; cutting or eliminating funding for bicycling and walking could be an attractive way to free up money for other priorities while appeasing opponents of TAP.
Our goal is that the House leave the Transportation Alternatives Program alone. It underwent significant changes in the last transportation bill, MAP-21, and we’d like to see the House sustain funding at current levels and leave the competitive, local control aspects of the program intact.
We are talking with members of the Committee to remind them of the benefits of Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking—and how TAP is essential funding. We are asking supportive Republicans and Democrats on the Committee to contact Chairman Shuster (R-PA) and Ranking Member DeFazio (D-OR) to ask them to leave TAP as-is. We are also planning ahead for a potential amendment vote by the full House in late September to protect or defend TAP.
While August is a time when many of us are taking vacations or focusing on back to school—now is also a good time to reach out. If you are represented by a member of the House Transportation Committee, now is a good time to reach out to them. You can let them know:
- You live in the district, and are active in the community’s Safe Routes to School effort;
- Safe Routes to School is critical to help protect children from traffic injuries and to make sure kids and families are healthy and active;
- The Transportation Alternatives Program is absolutely a necessary program to help fund sidewalks, crosswalks and other needed infrastructure to keep kids safe; and
- Ask if they will contact Reps. Shuster and DeFazio to protect TAP from any cuts or changes in the House transportation bill.
If you get a chance to do this, send me an email so we can follow up with their transportation staff.
We will also likely need your help in a few weeks—we will be doing action alerts in September once we have a better sense of the House’s timing and strategy on the transportation bill. If TAP is attacked, we will need to pull together to save the program.