New Life, New Threats in Transportation Conference

Margo PedrosoThe state of play on the transportation bill seems to change daily, if not hourly, here in Washington, DC.  Last week, negotiations between the House and Senate broke down and it seemed that a transportation extension was likely. 

But, yesterday evening, Speaker Boehner (R-OH), Leader Reid (D-NV), Rep. Mica (R-FL) and Sen. Boxer (D-CA) met to assess what was possible.  They left the meeting declaring a “redoubling” of efforts to try and reach agreement.  Today, Sen. Boxer and Rep. Mica are reportedly meeting for hours to try and hammer out agreement.  The clock is ticking as the current extension expires June 30, 2012.

Several press stories have reported that House Republicans have indicated they would be willing to back down on non-transportation environmental provisions, such as requiring approval of the Keystone pipeline, in exchange for “reasonable agreements” in three transportation policy areas:

  • Transportation Enhancements (the House’s shorthand for all bicycling and walking funding)
  • Program consolidation
  • “Streamlining” of environmental regulations

This puts a lot of pressure on Sen. Boxer to make further concessions on bicycling and walking funding—even though the Senate bill already contains significant compromise with the Cardin-Cochran agreement.  We know that House Republicans continue to insist on making all funding for bicycling and walking optional—putting decisions about whether communities get any of this money in the hands of the state department of transportation.  We also know that House Republicans are attempting to strip Safe Routes to School even as an eligibility for funding.

We are very concerned about these continued negotiations as they could put at risk 20 years of progress on bicycle and pedestrian safety in exchange for a 15-month transportation bill.  We urge everyone who cares about Safe Routes to School to let your Members of Congress know how you feel.  We have several ways to do so—and time is of the essence, so call or email today!

Thank you so much for your dedication to Safe Routes to School!