With the Georgia Senate runoff results decided on December 6, 2022, the mid-term election officially comes to a close, and we can take stock of what it means for walking, bicycling, and Safe Routes to School in this upcoming Congress.
While the Democrats enjoyed control of both chambers of Congress and the executive branch the past two years, the 118th Congress, which begins in January 2023, will see a divided Congress. Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, while Democrats gained a seat in the Senate.
Because the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) passed last Congress, most of our efforts will focus on monitoring the implementation of our priority programs, like Transportation Alternatives, Safe Routes to School, and the Highway Safety Improvement Program. We will also focus on aligned efforts advocating for increased funding for public health programs like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s State Physical Activity and Nutrition program and for programs like the Healthy Streets Program, which was authorized in the BIL but not funded.
In the committees with jurisdiction over our main federal legislative priorities, on the Senate side, Tom Carper (D-DE) will remain at the helm as Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee and Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV) will continue as ranking member. On the House side, Sam Graves (R-MO-6) will chair the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and with Chairman DeFazio’s retirement, the Democrat who will succeed him in leadership has yet to be determined. Both Rick Larsen (D-WA-2) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) are in contention for ranking member. Under Republican leadership, we can likely expect more hearings on the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and its impacts on local communities.
We bid farewell to two champions for Safe Routes to School: Representative Pete DeFazio (D-OR-4) who retires at the end of this session and Representative Anthony Brown (D-MD-4), who was elected Attorney General of Maryland. Both have been sponsored legislation that has led to an expansion of Safe Routes to School over the years, and we are deeply appreciative of their leadership! As a result, we will invest time and effort this Congress in cultivating new champions and nurturing existing relationships with allies for our issues.
Other things we are keeping an eye on are how Shailen Bhatt’s nomination for Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration wends its way through the Senate. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted at the end of November to advance Shailen Bhatt’s nomination, which will now move to the Senate for a full chamber vote
As ever, your work and your stories matter most. To keep support for Safe Routes to School active and current on Capitol Hill, we need to hear from you! Please share stories of how implementation is going in your state – we love to hear what’s working well, and we also need to hear what’s not working as planned. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.