Transportation Authorization Bill Expires this Saturday – Act Now!
The current transportation authorization expires next Saturday, June 30. The original bill, which expired nearly 1,000 days ago, has already been renewed 9 times. In an effort to create a bill with majority support and to avoid the 10th renewal of the bill, the Senate created a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). MAP-21 was passed with support from Democrats and Republicans from every region of the country, not an easy task to accomplish, but the House is preventing further advancement by pushing their radical agenda onto the Senate’s bill.
In an effort to speed up projects and cut any red tape, MAP-21 lays out reforms for project reviews and the delivery processes. These reforms still allow taxpayers the ability to play a role in projects that will influence their community and health. The House, however, has different ideas. They have proposed project streamlining, which eliminates the rights of local citizens and elected officials to be involved in shaping transportation projects.
MAP-21 consolidates small programs like Transportation Enhancement (TE) and Safe Routes to School into a single program that provides funding to local communities for projects to improve safety, revitalize communities, and improve the environment. This program allows decisions over local issues to be made locally, by people that know them best. The House, however, wants to prevent local input by eliminating these programs all together, which puts the safety of America’s roadways at risk.
In today’s economy when the unemployment rate is 8.2%, job creation is on the mind of every American. Some members of the House want to cut the funding measures for job creation laid out in MAP-21. This would reduce the projected 3 million jobs by an unthinkable 500,000, and shows the blatant disregard for Americans’ well-beings.
Members of the House are intent on changing the Senate’s bill, but their bill never made it to the floor for a vote, and it failed to dedicate any money to road and bridge repair. The Senate’s bill, however, increases funding for these repairs above even what the current law has allotted.
As if this was not enough, the House is pushing to add the Keystone XL pipeline project to the bill, a measure that will surely prevent its implementation. President Obama has previously stated that he will veto any bill with the Keystone XL pipeline project, so the proposed addition would serve only to cripple any attempt at passing a new transportation bill.
MAP-21 is the clearest path forward and offers the best chance at a bi-partisan supported bill. Without a committee consensus, the threat of shut down becomes increasingly possible. The continued failure to compromise and pass a bi-partisan supported bill puts the creation of millions of jobs and the safety of our roads, bridges, and transit systems in jeopardy.
I urge you to ask your Representatives to talk to members of the Transportation Conference Committee. Tell Conferees to stop trying to compromise the integrity of the Senate’s bi-partisan supported bill. Remind your members of Congress that the Conference Committee should be focusing on the job creation and long-term economic benefits for their constituents, rather than on their political careers and the upcoming election. And urge your Senators and Representatives to support MAP-21.