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Senate To Begin Debate on Transportation Bill
The U.S. Senate will now begin debating its proposed three-year transportation bill, after voting 62-36 on Wednesday to clear the way for discussion on the floor.
In order to get to cloture, which essentially means agreement to consider the bill and eventually vote, leaders of the bill -- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) -- had to agree to some changes to the funding for the bill. The original deal had included cutting social security to people with outstanding felony warrants, and using the funding to pay for the transportation bill, and to make some critical changes to transit funding. Those have been dropped.
If approved, it would be the first mutli-year transportation bill in a decade. So what could this mean for bicycling on the federal level? It's a 1,000 page bill, so we're still digesting it, but here are a few things we know right now:
- The improvements to Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) won at the Committee level are in the bill, including an increase in funding.
- The Complete Street language that passed in the Senate Commerce Committee was stripped from the floor bill
- The Amtrak roll on access language and the active safety technology language remains in the bill
- The Senate has found funding for a three year bill. Some of that funding is in question, but there should be enough for 2-3 years
What Happens now
- The Senate will start voting on amendments - possibly as soon as today.
- We are preparing to support some amendments, including an amendment on Complete Streets; an amendment to increase local control over transportation funding; and a potential amendment to codify TIGER (right now this is a question every year -- getting it into a multi-year bill will take out the guessing.)
- We are also preparing to defend a potential amendment to strip bicycle and pedestrian funding. Even as we build more and more support and understanding for our projects, there's still a threat to strip the funding
Please watch for an action alert on the bill -- you can sign up to get those in your inbox here. Once we know what amendments will be voted on we'll be asking for your help to support good amendments and push back on any bad ones. Stay tuned!