Senate Committee Moves Transportation Bill Forward

On November, 9, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee considered their draft transportation bill in a markup. We have previously identified concerns about the changes the draft makes to Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails by moving them into a new “Additional Activities” funding pot.

During the markup, Chairman Boxer (D-CA) offered an amendment to remove the majority of the road uses that were also eligible in the “Additional Activities” funding pot. This is a significant improvement, although the one road eligibility that remains is more expansive than we would like, and the environmental mitigation eligibilities still remain.

In addition, at the markup, Sen. Merkley (D-OR) offered an amendment, which was cosponsored by nearly all Democrats on the Committee, to dedicate 2% of surface transportation funding to bicycling and walking. And, Sen. Cardin (D-MD) offered an amendment to increase funding for “Additional Activities,” to remove all the road uses, and to require State Departments of Transportation to make the funding available to local governments and large metropolitan planning organizations. Both amendments were discussed by the Senators and withdrawn without a vote to preserve their ability to continue to negotiate for changes before the bill moves forward for floor consideration by the full Senate.

We are working to confirm some additional information that could affect the overall funding level for the program and the opt-out clause. As soon as we have that confirmation, we will post an updated side-by-side analysis comparing current law with the new draft.

We are continuing to work closely with Committee staff and Committee Members to make additional improvements to the legislation. We are grateful to Sens. Cardin and Merkley for taking the lead on fighting for dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School, walking and bicycling.