Thinking Federally: What’s Been Going on in DC?
The Overhead Wire Blog: In an attempt to take some of the articles we post and create a narrative, we want to share some of the connections that we come across as we read. I’m hoping we can pull out some of the important parts of the articles we cover and connect them in a way that’s interesting and informative. Enjoy!
Over the last few days there have been lots of articles on trying to put together funding to cover the Highway Trust Fund shortfall and push on with a new transportation bill. Some such as the Eno foundation have suggested that we try to replenish the fund, but without a gas tax. It seems unlikely at the moment but perhaps they have a point.
After the GOP gained control over the Senate and retained control over the House after the November elections, many wondered about what the implications were for transportation in the US, particularly concerning the transportation bill, MAP-21, which will need to be renegotiated next spring. A GOP Representative has stated that the transportation bill is a “priority” for GOP leaders.
However, the GOP has also made it abundantly clear that they will not be supporting high speed rail in California, and in fact, will be doing everything they can to block any kind of federal funding for it, calling it both a “pipe dream” and a “boondoggle.” The reasoning is that without any realistic plan for funding the $55 billion gap that the California High Speed Rail Authority faces, backing the project would have no result. On Friday, thirteen California Republicans sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee specifically requesting that the new spending bill include provisions to prohibit funds for high speed rail in the state.
Other long term effects of having the GOP in charge of both branches of Congress have yet to be seen. Polls show that support for funding of active transportation is high across all party lines, and with the deadline for the Transportation Funding Act approaching, many are curious to see how much funding will actually be going toward initiatives for biking and walking.
Regardless of which way the GOP will lean, several metro areas around the US have made it clear: bike infrastructure and pedestrian safety are a top priority.