Articles Capitol Hill Updates

Capitol Hill Updates are a new online resource provided by TEN. We'll be sending out regular updates on transportation legislation being discussed in Washington. All of the updates will be kept archived on this page.

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Important News from Capitol Hill

Dangerous Cuts

The House will vote tonight on a Motion to Instruct Conferees “to insist on provisions that limit funding for Federal highway and transit programs to levels that can be supported by Highway Trust Fund revenues, without transfers from the general fund of the Treasury or other sources.”  The surface transportation bill (MAP-21) currently in conference committee is a 2-year bill that provides approximately $50 billion annually for federal transportation programs. The motion to instruct amounts to a 25% decrease overall or a bill of approximately $38 billion annually.
 
Your immediate action is needed to stop the passage of this motion in tonight’s House session. Contact your Member of Congress and tell him/her to vote “no” on the motion to instruct.

A vote to cut transportation spending means a vote to cut jobs!

Millions of Jobs

Insiders on the Hill indicate that the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Sub-Committee (THUD) of the House Appropriations Committee is planning to mark-up the FY 2013 THUD bill next week. The sub-committee has yet to release the details of the bill or mark-up, but if the FY 2013 House budget is an indicator of their intent, transportation spending is at risk for more cuts. The FY 2013 House budget—referred to as a “reconciliation budget” and crafted by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI)—passed the House two weeks ago on a vote of 218-199 and reduced transportation program spending by approximately 25%.
 
The transportation sector accounts for more than 10% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (or more than $1 trillion) and results in millions of jobs. At a time when the jobless rate in many of our states exceeds 8% (and is double-digits for African-American men), cuts in transportation spending—especially public transit—are unacceptable.

It’s time for Congress to get serious about job creation and economic recovery.

Call your Member of Congress today and tell him/her to maintain current transportation and public transit spending levels in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. The health and vitality of our communities and our nation depends on it.

 

Save the Date

Thursday, June 14, at 2:00 p.m. ET TEN partner Transportation for America will host a webinar  entitled Best Practices: Raising the Profile of Transportation during the 2012 Election Season.

Sam Finkelstein, TEN Deputy Director, will be a featured speaker.

Registration information will follow next week.


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Senate Transportation Reauthorization Passed

Yesterday, the Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation bill, S. 1813, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) with a bipartisan vote of 74-22.

Among the new policy provisions included in the Senate bill is a key TEN issue: flexible transit operating assistance, which will allow local transit agencies to use federal money to prevent fare hikes and service cuts. In general, the Senate provision allows transit systems to use their federal capital funds for operating expenses if unemployment in their community is 7% or above. In addition, communities with a population over 200,000 are granted permanent flexibility if they operate fewer than 100 buses during peak operating periods. (Systems operating 76-100 buses during peak periods may flex 50% of their federal capital funds, and systems operating fewer than 76 buses may flex 75% of their funds.)
 
In the House, reauthorization activity on the floor has been halted as House leadership attempts to regroup following considerable public outcry over what many transportation experts call the worst transportation bill in recent history. With the March 31 expiration of the current transportation authorization, SAFETEA-LU, looming, the House appears to have several options: 1) move forward with H.R. 7 in spite of overwhelming objections by citizens, the transportation industry, the business community, and advocacy groups; 2) introduce a new House version of the surface transportation bill; 3) pass another extension of SAFETEA-LU (this would be the ninth extension since original expiration of SAFETEA-LU on September 30, 2009); or 4) introduce the Senate version, MAP-21, as an amendment to H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. With yesterday’s Senate action, the House needs to rise to the occasion and deliver a bill with bipartisan support, as well.

Next step:  Contact your Member of Congress and ask him/her to urge passage of the Senate bill in the House.

FY 2013 Appropriations Process Has Officially Begun

President Obama officially kicked off the annual appropriations process on February 13 with the release of his proposed budget for FY 2013. The President’s remarks at the time of official release, along with fact sheets and other resources available on the White House website, show his continued commitment to the programs, investments, and values found in the American Jobs Act (including job training, local hire, targeted and temporary operating assistance). Important transportation and infrastructures pieces of his proposed budget include:

  • $74 billion for surface transportation investment
  • $100 million for Sustainable Communities
  • An additional $476 billion over 6 years:
    • $108 billion for transit
    • $20 billion for innovative planning (The new program will be called the Transportation Leadership Award.)
    • $27 billion for livability, mobility, and transportation choice through formula and competitive grants (offered jointly through DOT, HUD, and EPA)
    • $3.4 billion to develop multiuse transportation corridors and hubs with options for biking, walking, and public transportation
  • $50 billion immediate investment in 2012 for highways, rail, and airport projects

Theoretically, the annual federal appropriations process progresses according to the following calendar:

  • February – President submits proposed budget for the next fiscal year to Congress
  • March – Congressional Budget Office publishes analysis of the President’s proposed budget
  • February/March – House and Senate Budget Committees begin work on budget and receive input from other committees, as well members of the two houses
  • April 1 – Deadline for budget committees to submit budget resolutions that contain funding levels for all committees
  • April 15 – Passage of resolution in each house
  • May 15 – Appropriations Committees in each house begin work on appropriations bills
  • September 30 – Expiration of current fiscal year budget
  • October 1 – New fiscal budget takes effect

Next step:  Contact your Member of Congress and communicate your community's priorities for funding in FY 2013.

Faith Based Organizing Works

With only a few days’ notice, twenty-one leaders and organizers, from TEN/Gamaliel affiliates in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and Wisconsin, joined TEN Executive Director Laura Barrett and Federal Policy Coordinator Cynthia Jarrold in Washington, D.C. to be part of a lightning team that visited every House office and every Senate Banking Committee office—that is more than 472 offices—with the message that: 1) flexible transit operating assistance is necessary to keep our buses running and our people working; and 2) incorporating the “Missouri Model” into workforce development legislation puts people to work and ensures that low income people, people of color, and women receive the necessary training to enter career path jobs in the construction industry.

The lightning team came to DC in advance of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee mark-up of the Surface Transportation Authorization bill that we have been working on for the last 3 years. They made sure that the issues we have been working on were fresh on the minds of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Banking Committee members when they walked into the committee mark-ups on Thursday, February 2. Below is an update on what happened with our issues in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee mark-up and the Senate Banking Committee mark-up.

Flexible Transit Operating Assistance for Buses

This has been our signature issue over the last 6 months. After 15 hours of debate over 117 amendments, Congressman Russ Carnahan offered an amendment to the House surface transportation bill that would give all systems in our country the flexibility to shift the money they receive from the federal government for buses to operating costs. (It makes no sense to buy buses when there is no one to drive them.)

Because the TEN and Gamaliel networks, the lightning team, and our national partners—Amalgamated Transit Union, Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, Transit Workers Union, Community Transportation Assistance of America, Transportation for America, Policy Link, and Transit Riders for Public Transit—had organized well around this issue, the Majority Party in the House was fearful that we would win this amendment. As a result, they made sure that all of their members were in the room when it came time for the vote. The same was true for the Democrats. The amendment failed 26-28 with 2 Republicans breaking ranks to vote with the Democrats. This is a victory for us for two reasons: 1) We have gained sufficient support outside the committee to actually bring an amendment to the full House for a vote; and 2) The committee chairman, John Mica-FL, was concerned enough about more Republicans breaking ranks to vote with Democrats that he added a modified version of transit operating assistance to his manager’s amendment which did pass and become part of the surface transportation bill.

The Senate Banking Committee also included a modified version of flexible operating assistance in their original bill which will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote next week.

The “Missouri Model” for Workforce Development

TEN organized a coalition of national partners who have been working on this issue for the last 2 years at the federal level. This is also a critical issue for many of the Gamaliel affiliates. Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD) offered a local hire amendment during the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee mark-up. After intense debate, the Cummings amendment failed by voice vote. Shortly after that Congresswoman Laura Richardson (CA) offered a second, modified local hire amendment. It, too, failed by voice vote. (FYI—Congressman Hanna referred to local hire as “dumbing down hiring.”)

Later in the evening Congressman Cohen (TN) offered a construction careers demo project amendment which incorporated a number of the pieces of the “Missouri Model”—quality pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training for low income people, people of color, and women. He withdrew the amendment when Chairman Mica offered to talk further with him about adding pieces to the transportation bill when it goes to House floor. We will be monitoring these conversations to ensure that Mr. Mica does follow through with his commitment to Congressman Cohen.

The construction careers demo project language was not included in the Senate Banking Committee bill.

Privatization of Transit Service

The House Transportation and Infrastructure bill contains language that would provide transit systems with 90% federal match for transit capital projects instead of 80% federal match if they choose to privatize at least 20% of their transit service. This is an alarming precedent and puts public transit on a path back to the late 1960s when most transit systems were owned and operated by private companies and were going broke, resulting in decreased service and increased fares.

House Ways and Means Committee Removes Public Transit from the Trust Fund

On Friday, February 3, the House Ways and Means Committee marked up the bill that establishes how the surface transportation program will be funded for the next 5 years. The committee’s plan for financing the transportation program focuses on drilling. More alarming, however, it takes the 2.86 cents of the 18.4 cent motor fuel tax that is currently dedicated for public transit in the Highway Trust Fund and redirects it to highways, leaving public transit with no guaranteed and secure funding.

This bill passed out of committee on a party line vote (with the exception of 2 Republicans who voted against it) of 20-17. It will move to the House floor along with the House Transportation and Infrastructure surface transportation bill next week.

Looking Ahead

The Senate Finance Committee plans to mark-up its bill for funding the surface transportation on Tuesday, February 7, at 3:00 p.m. Once it passes out of committee, it will be combined with the other Senate committee bills (Environment and Public Works – highway portion; Commerce – rail portion; and Banking – transit portion) and taken to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. We anticipate the combined bill to be released at the end of this week and voted on next week. In addition, the Transportation and Infrastructure bill, as well as the Ways and Means bill, are anticipated to go the House floor for debate and a vote next week.

We have a lot of work to do over the next several days to make sure that we win these issues when the bills go to the House and Senate floors during the week of February 13. TEN will keep you alerted with updates on these bills. In the meantime, let your Members of Congress know the following: 1) that any attempts at privatization are unacceptable; 2) that public transit must remain in the Highway Trust Fund; 3) that flexible transit operating assistance is necessary in this economic crisis; and 4) that workforce development provisions put people to work, especially low income people, people of color, and women.

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Capitol Hill Update - December 22, 2011

The Month in Review

In this issue (click links to jump to individual articles)

 

Congressman Carnahan and Senator Brown Champion Flexible Operating Assistance

The Status of Transportation Reauthorization and FY 2012 Appropriations

TEN Calendar: January 2012

Congressional Calendar: January-March 2012

 

Congressman Russ Carnahan (MO-3) and Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) champion flexible operating assistance

It is tough for folks to be optimistic after watching a year of acrimonious debate and repeated deadlock in Congress; but the Transportation Equity Network is happy to announce that there is a reason to be hopeful as we enter 2012 and the 2nd Session of the 112th Congress—and that reason is Flexible Transit Operating Assistance.

In October, Congressman Russ Carnahan (MO-3) introduced HR 3200: A bill to provide flexibility of certain transit functions to local entities. Senator Sherrod Brown introduced the companion bill in the Senate last week—S. 1992 (same title)—with Senators Wyden (OR) and Sheehan (NH) as co-sponsors. This legislation allows transit agencies to flex their federal capital funds for temporary and targeted operating if they meet one of three triggers: 1) operation of fewer than 100 buses during peak operating hours, regardless of community size; 2) an unemployment rate of 7% or higher in the region; or 3) a 10% rise in gas prices when comparing current quarter to same quarter in the previous year. In addition, there is a flexibility provision for “maintenance of effort” if a local operating revenue source is in place and has not been reduced from the previous year’s level.

More than 84% of the transit systems around the country have instituted severe cost-cutting measures at least once since 2008, significantly limiting access to jobs, education, healthcare, grocery stores, and more for many low and middle income Americans. The Carnahan and Brown bills provide the opportunity to change the narrative by securing flexible operating assistance in the transportation reauthorization bill in 2012. Below is a breakdown of co-sponsorship on the Carnahan bill (HR 3200) as of December 20:
  • Total co-sponsors – 137
  • Total Republican co-sponsors – 16
  • Co-sponsors on Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – All Democrats are signed on; 5 Republicans are signed on (Guinta-NH, Capito-WV, LoBiondo-NJ, Johnson-IL, and Miller-MI).
TEN Strategy: Our number one priority is to secure sufficient congressional support on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T/I) and the Senate Banking Committee so that we can win an amendment process during the committee mark-up of the reauthorization bill. To do that, we must focus on getting a majority of the Republican members of the T/I Committee and a majority of all members of the Banking Committee to co-sponsor the bill. Partners and affiliates are urged to meet with their Members of Congress—especially Republican members of the T/I Committee and all Banking Committee members—before they return to Washington on January 17 and 23, respectively. The message needs to be clear: Transit=Jobs, and co-sponsoring the Carnahan and Brown bills keeps buses rolling so that people can work. For more information on committee members and to follow the status of the two bills, use the links below.

Related External Links:
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Senate Banking Committee
Brown Bill, S. 1992
Carnahan Bill, HR 3200

Back to the top.

 

Transportation Reauthorization Moves to 2012

 

A year ago, transportation advocacy groups, industry experts, and lobbyists declared that if Congress had not passed a transportation authorization by the August 2011 recess, there would be no authorization until 2013. Much to the surprise of all, the game changed significantly when President Obama introduced the American Jobs Act in September. While the President’s jobs bill, which includes significant investments in infrastructure (including $27 billion for highways; $50 million for job training; $4 billion for high speed rail; $2 billion for Amtrak; $3 billion for transit capital, 10% of which could be used for operating assistance; $6 billion for state of good repair) was never introduced in the House and failed to pass the Senate, it has served as the catalyst for renewed efforts in Congress to pass a transportation reauthorization bill that would serve as a job creator.

In November, House Speaker John Boehner and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica announced that a bill, funded at current spending levels and adjusted for inflation, would be introduced in the House. That bill is now anticipated for release in early February. (The most current intelligence suggests that the bill will be released on a Monday, marked up in committee on Thursday, and brought to the House floor for debate and a vote on the next Tuesday or Wednesday.) The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill, which passed both Houses of Congress in November as part of a mini-bus appropriations bill, set spending levels for FY 2012 that reflect the Speaker’s announcement about the size of the transportation bill.

Also in November, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), which has led the way on the need to maintain current funding levels, marked up the highway portion of the transportation authorization bill and passed it out of committee with a unanimous vote. The workforce development provisions that currently exist in SAFETEA-LU were retained in the EPW bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

Last week, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, with jurisdiction over waterways, transportation communications and research, and highway safety, marked up its portion of the transportation authorization bill. The bill passed out of committee with a vote along partisan lines. The Commerce language will be rolled into MAP-21.

The Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over the transit portion of the transportation reauthorization, postponed its mark-up until after the Senate returns to Washington on January 23.

TEN Strategy: The Senate Banking Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T/I) are key to moving our flexible transit operating assistance issue (i.e., Carnahan and Brown bills). In addition, TEN continues to be committed to making sure that our demands around workforce development—1% draw down on federally-funded transportation projects (highways, transit, and rail) for quality pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, and on-the-job (OJT) training; and 30% of workforce hours reserved for low-income people, especially women and minorities—are included in all pieces of the reauthorization. Clearly, we have approximately six weeks in which to move key legislators around our issues. Again, TEN urges all partners and affiliates to use the month of January when House and Senate members are working in their districts/states to secure meetings with them. The message needs to be clearly focused on the relationship between transportation and jobs.

In addition, partners and affiliates need to be prepared to respond rapidly to the release of the House reauthorization bill in early February, as we have every reason to believe that in spite of the Speaker’s commitment to maintaining current funding levels, the bill will contain a significant number of provisions that are objectionable (e.g., off-shore drilling as the “pay-for”) to the transportation equity community and, more importantly, harmful to low-income people, especially women and minorities. TEN will send e-action alerts once the bill is released. Partners and affiliates may forward those alerts to their networks and should feel free to encourage their members to sign-up to receive direct alerts at our website.

Back to the top.

TEN Calendar January 2012

January 12
TEN Webinar: Launching 2012 Transit = Jobs Campaign
On Thursday, January 12, at 3:00 p.m. CT, TEN will offer a free webinar introducing TEN's 2012 Transit = Jobs Campaign. January's webinar will cover our 2012 strategy for creating jobs, getting people to work, and fighting voter suppression. TEN webinars are aimed at community leaders, activists, advocacy organizations, and anyone who wants to learn more about organizing for transportation equity. To register, click here.

March 5 - 6
TEN’s Fifth Annual DC Conference: Registration Opens January 9 (Deadline February 3)
TEN conferences focus on empowering community leaders and transforming federal policies while highlighting successful efforts to ensure our transportation system benefits the most vulnerable citizens across the country. They provide community leaders with an amazing opportunity to learn how to set goals for state and regional transportation planning and funding, to create safe streets for all users, and to build support for public transit. Watch for upcoming notices with more information.

March 8
TEN Webinar: topic TBD
On Thursday, March 8, at 3:00 p.m. CT, TEN will offer another free webinar. Watch for details.

Back to the top.

Congressional Calendar January-March 2012

House Schedule
January 17: 2nd Session of 112th Congress reconvenes
February 20-24: Constituent Work Week (in-district)
March 12-26: Constituent Work Week (in-district)

Senate Schedule
January 23: 2nd Session of 112th Congress reconvenes
February 20-24: State Work Period

To learn more about how the federal process and policy impacts your local transportation campaign and community, contact:   

Cynthia Owen Jarrold, M.Div.
Federal Policy Coordinator
TEN—A Project of Gamaliel
Mobile: 913.219.3198
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Back to the top.

 

Transportation Equity Network
4501 Westminster Place, 3rd Floor 

St. Louis, MO 63108

 

Capitol Hill Update #1 - June 9, 2011

The Month of May in Review

In this issue

Leaked Administration Bill Contains TEN Priorities

DeFazio Introduces Gas Price Relief Bill

Appropriations Allocations for FY 2012 Announced

EPW Releases Statement on Transportation Reauthorization

Seniors and Transit Report

Congressional Calendar:  June-August

Leaked Administration Bill Contains TEN Priorities

At the beginning of the month, Transportation Weekly secured and leaked a copy of a draft version of the Administration’s transportation bill.  The bill responds to several of TEN’s priorities including the following:

Increased Funding for Transportation

SAFETEA-LU, the current transportation legislation, guaranteed $244.1 billion in funding for highways, highway safety, and public transportation.  The Administration’s leaked bill calls for $556 billion in funding and includes funding for high speed rail.  The transit portion of the bill represents an increase from 18 percent to 22 percent of the total dollars. 

Workforce Development Provisions - Construction and Operations Careers

  • Training provisions are included in the high speed rail title.  The federal share may be up to 100 percent of the cost.  (Operations)

  • All modes of transportation are subject to the general rule that no less than 10 percent of the funds be made available in each program for DBEs.  A new category—”socially and economically disadvantaged individuals”—is added to the definition of DBE. (Construction)

  • The requirement that construction contracts be awarded to the lowest, responsible bidder now includes a provision allowing  the Secretary to find that another bidding method would be in the public interest. (Construction)

  • The surface transportation title provides for training and capacity-building programs that will educate the workforce and includes pre-employment training, OJT, technical and training assistance that is directed to targeted populations.  The bill also establishes and funds 5 Regional Workforce Development Resource Centers in institutions of higher learning “to provide for a skilled, technically competent transportation workforce.”  (Construction and Operations)

Local Control/Flexible Operating 

The leaked bill provides for temporary and targeted operating assistance by allowing urbanized area formula funds to be used for operations if an area experiences a significant decline in employment levels.  The available funds are capped: 25%-year 1, 15%-year 2, 10%-year 3.  At the conclusion of year 3, the agency becomes ineligible for these funds for another 3 years.  Additional eligibility requirements for use of the funds also includes: the presence of a state/local revenue source and service levels maintained at or above current levels.  Areas negatively impacted by 2010 Census are provided with a  fix— a phase-down through 2016.

Greater Accountability/Transparency

The Metropolitan Transportation Planning section has been completely rewritten.  Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are now identified by tiers, placing greater accountability on Tier 1 MPOs (metropolitan areas with a population over one million).  States are held to the same requirements as Tier 1 MPOs.  Requirements include:

  • improved accessibility to functional needs for all transportation users, including people with disabilities, older Americans, and low income individuals;

  • enhanced environmental sustainability through protection and enhancement of the environment, promotion of energy conservation, improvement of quality of life, and promotion of consistency between transportation improvements and State and local planned growth and economic development patterns;

  • increased emphasis on preservation of the existing system and maintaining it in a state of good repair, including elevators, escalators and communications technology for use of people with disabilities and older adults;

  • improved accountability and transparency for public dollars, delivering projects as forecasted; and

  • improved public participation in the planning process.

TEN Response:

While the Administration refuses to acknowledge authorship, reliable sources have confirmed that this is indeed one of several drafts by the Administration.  The leaked document provides us with the opportunity to thank the U.S. Department of Transportation for including policies that we care about.  Letters, emails, or faxes should be directed to the following:  Letter - The Honorable Ray LaHood, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation (or The Honorable Peter Rogoff, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration), 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, D.C. 20590; Email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Fax - 202.366.3956 or 202.366.3472.

DeFazio Introduces Gas Price Relief Bill

Rising gas prices have become the recent focus of congressional debate and division.  On May 6, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced House Resolution (HR) 1975 – Providing Gas Price Relief through Public Transportation Act of 2011.

The DeFazio bill addresses increased gas prices by providing transit operating assistance and making the commuter tax benefit permanent.  Key elements of the bill include the following:

  • Authorization of additional $1.7 billion of capital and operating funds ($850 million from the general fund for each of the fiscal years 2011 and 2012) for transit agencies to reduce fares and expand transit service under current urban and rural transit formulas, i.e., sections 5307 and 5311 of title 49 USC.

  • Increase in the federal share for clean fuel and public transit vehicles that are designed for use of alternative fuels.  Currently, the federal government provides 90% of the funding for alternative fuel vehicles.  This bill would increase the federal share to 100%.

  • Extension of commuter transit benefits to all federal employees.

  • Creation of a 2-year vanpool pilot program.

The bill currently has 10 co-sponsors —Hirono (D-HI) , Filner (D-CA), Larsen (D-WA), Nadler (D-NY), Bishop (D-NY), Boswell (D-IA), Cummings (D-MD), Richardson (D-CA), Quigley (D-IL), and Lipinski (D-IL)—and was referred to two committees, Transportation and Infrastructure and Oversight and Government Reform.

TEN Response:

Congressman DeFazio introduced this bill as a response to efforts in Congress to lift the ban on off-shore drilling.  It is not a marker bill; however, it does provide a vehicle for communicating with your Member of Congress about transit operating assistance and its positive impact on economic recovery in your community.

Appropriations Allocations for FY 2012 Announced

On May 11, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (KY) announced the allocation levels and schedule for completion of FY 2012 Appropriations.  The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development  and Related Agencies (THUD) sub-committee allocation has been reduced to $47.7 billion which is below FY 2008 levels.  That is a 30% reduction from FY 2010 spending levels and a 14% reduction from FY 2011 spending levels.  Chairman Rogers plans to complete mark-up and approve all 12 appropriations bills at the sub-committee and full committee levels before the August recess and to enact the bill into law by September 30.

TEN Response:

These reductions are unacceptable and will result in lost jobs and continued economic devolution in our communities.  Consider "adopting" your Member of Congress (especially a freshman member) for the summer and using the time to educate him/her about the transportation dollars that currently flow into your district and what they mean in terms of jobs, taxes, and economic development.

EPW Releases Statement on Transportation Reauthorization

On May 25, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, held a press conference announcing the progress the committee has made on the new transportation authorization bill.  In a joint statement with Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Committee Ranking Member, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chair, Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Subcommittee Ranking Member, Boxer laid out "principles" for the bill:

  • "Funds programs at current levels to maintain and modernize our critical transportation infrastructure;

  • Eliminates earmarks;

  • Consolidates numerous programs to focus resources on key national goals and reduce duplicative and wasteful programs;

  • Consolidates numerous programs into a more focused freight program that will improve the movement of goods;

  • Creates a new section called America Fast Forward, which strengthens the TIFIA [a construction loan program] program to stretch federal dollars further than they have been stretched before; and

  • Expedites project delivery without sacrificing the environment or the rights of people to be heard."

Senator Boxer also indicated that the bill would be released before the July 4 recess and that it would reflect current authorization levels adjusted for inflation, or $339 billion.  Following the press release, Ranking Member Inhofe spoke with reporters indicating that the transportation authorization bill would only be a two-year bill.

TEN Response:

TEN is concerned about the possibility of a significant change to the Surface Transportation Program (STP) in the EPW bill.  Currently, STP funds, which are used for highways, can be flexed for use on public transportation projects.  According to Hill insiders, EPW is considering the possibility of removing the flexibility in this authorization bill, a move that would have a devastating impact on public transportation in many of our states.  In the case of California, for example, the state was able to flex approximately $1.5 billion from highway spending to transit projects last year alone.  Communications with Senators, particularly those on the EPW Committee, should focus on the importance of continuing to allow STP funds to be flexed for public transit projects according to local need.

Seniors and Transit Study to be Released Mid-June

Transportation for America is scheduled to release a study of Seniors and Transit on June 14.  The study, done in partnership with the Center for Neighborhood Technologies, examines the increasing numbers of seniors who are aging in place and have access to poor or no transit.  In addition, it explores the implications for federal policy.  TEN is developing a tool for engaging local communities in conversation around this important public transit issue.

Congressional Calendar May-August

House Constituent Weeks (in-district)

June 6-10

June 27-July 5

July 18-22

Senate Constituent Weeks (in-state)

July 4-8

August Recess for both houses is scheduled for August 8 through September 2.

To learn more about how the federal process and policy impacts your local transportation campaign and community, contact:

Cynthia Owen Jarrold, M.Div.

Rosa Parks Federal Policy Coordinator

TEN—A Project of Gamaliel

Mobile: 913.219.3198

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Click here to receive TEN's Capitol Hill Updates.