Things have gone from bad to worse. On the House side, there has been an all-out assault not only on bike funding, but also transit, environmental review, and basically anything other than highways and bridges. The House Bill (H.R. 7) is one of the most extreme examples of slash and burn politics, described as “uniquely terrible,” (NY Times) “disastrous,” (Rep. Nadler) and “The worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen.” (Sec. LaHood) Because the Petri Amendment failed, the consensus among a wide variety of groups is that the best hope for biking and walking is to kill the House Bill entirely and start over. Transportation for America, a national transportation advocacy group, notes,
“More than 75 national organizations signed the letter [of opposition to H.R. 7] — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AARP, the American Public Transportation Association, the National Rural Assembly, American Society of Civil Engineers, LOCUS (real estate developers), National Association of Counties— and a huge list of other individuals and state & local groups, including the governors of Oregon and Washington, several state DOTs, state and local Chambers of Commerce, and hundreds of state and local organizations nationwide.”
You may be seeing Action Alerts from national organizations asking you to contact your Representatives to ask them to vote against the bill. Here in Massachusetts, MassBike and our T4MA partners are contacting all our Representatives, who we expect will all strongly oppose the bill.
With an incredibly diverse array of groups (including the Tea Party!) aligned in opposition to the House Bill, MassBike and our partners are concentrating on what’s happening in the Senate. You may remember our post several weeks ago about MAP-21, the senate’s version of the transportation bill. Amendments are still possible in the Senate Bill, including one expected to be filed by Senator Cardin. There may be new amendments by tomorrow or Monday, and we want to have everything on the table before you spend time getting in touch with Senators Brown and Kerry.
We are working hard with our organizational partners to make sure that the votes are there to kill the House Bill and to improve the Senate Bill. (In fact, Executive Director David Watson is at a Rails to Trails Conservancy meeting in Philadelphia right now to coordinate the national campaign.) Because the Massachusetts delegation has consistently supported biking in this process so far, and we are contacting them on your behalf, we aren’t asking you to engage your Representative now. And the situation in the Senate is still very fluid, so we want to be sure that the time is right before we call on you to contact our Senators.
We are expecting to issue an Action Alert by Monday as things become more clear in the Senate, so stay tuned! When we do send out the Alert, we will need you to take action immediately.