Here’s the latest legislative alert from Metro CEO Art Leahy’s office:
Sharp Partisan Disagreements Mark Passage of Surface Transportation Bill in House Committee
Earlier today (2:45 a.m. EST), the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee concluded its consideration of The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act (H.R. 7). The measure was passed by a vote of 29-24, with Democrats in strong opposition to the bill. The bill would authorize $260 billion over the next five years (ending in FY 2016). As written, the bill seeks to fold 90 different federal transportation programs into 33. The bill also increases annual funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program to $1 billion, the same as the U.S. Senate’s surface transportation bill, popularly known as MAP-21. H.R. 7 also maintains funding for the New Starts/Small Starts program, but would eliminate all other federal discretionary transportation grant programs. Another major provision in the bill, thanks to several amendments, includes a three year U.S. Department of Transportation study on the effects of longer and heavier trucks on our nation’s highways. A Local Hire Amendment, offered by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), failed on a voice vote. Our agency has been engaged with members of the Los Angeles County Delegation who serve on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and will continue to work with them as H.R. 7 is moved to the House Floor for consideration.
House Ways and Means Committee Votes to Eliminate Funding for Transit from the Highway Trust Fund
This morning, the House Ways and Means Committee marked-up and adopted (by a margin of 20 to 17) the revenue title to the surface transportation bill (The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act – H.R. 7). The bill (H.R. 3864) makes significant changes regarding the flow of federal Highway Trust Fund dollars into the Mass Transit Account. Specifically, the bill marked-up today would, if eventually enacted into law, end the use of gas tax revenues for public transportation. In the place of Highway Trust Fund transfers to the Mass Transit Account, the bill proposes to create a new “Alternative Transportation Account”. As of today, no dedicated funding stream for the new “Alternative Transportation Account” has been identified. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Charles Rangel (D-NY) offered an amendment during the Ways and Means Committee mark-up that sought to preserve the current structure and tax rates for the Mass Transit Account. That amendment failed by a vote of 15 in favor, 22 opposed. Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, voted in support of the Rangel/Blumenauer amendment to safeguard the Mass Transit Account.
Our agency, along with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and other transportation stakeholders, strongly oppose the proposal adopted today by the Ways and Means Committee to end the practice of using motor fuel tax revenues to fund public transportation projects. The change proposed by the House Ways and Means Committee represents a clear threat to the robust federal transit funding supported by our agency and transportation agencies across the nation. According to APTA, “The Reallocation of funds would eliminate a dependable and predictable source of funding for much needed investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure.”