The GOP Climate ‘Traitors’ Have Something Else in Common …


Conservatives are continuing to pull the Republican party towards self-immolation today, vowing to defeat the eight House GOPers who backed last week’s climate change bill unless they change their votes.

Targeting those eight with the success of the climate bill is a silly and futile task, as the Huffington Post reports, given that Democratic leaders were prepared to twist more arms if fewer GOP votes materialized.

But while we note that most of the GOP climate backers had ties to the environmental community that explain their votes, it’s worth pointing out what else all eight have in common: a local investment in transit.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Rep. Dave Reichert (R) represents a suburban Seattle district that includes King County, where the local transit agency is running despite a budget deficit estimated at $168 million for the next two years.
  • Rep. Mark Kirk (R) represents the northern Chicago suburbs that rely on the Metra commuter train network, which this year faces a $19 million budget gap. Kirk’s advocacy on the issue was so strong that he joined Illinois PIRG to unveil a pro-transit report last year.
  • Rep. Mike Castle (R), Delaware’s lone House member, is a longtime Amtrak booster. In the next federal transportation bill, Castle is seeking $20 million for Amtrak, 4 million for fuel-efficient bus technology, and $2 million for a pedestrian greenway.
  • Rep. Chris Smith (R) is another longtime backer of New Jersey Transit, working to modernize the station in his Trenton home district by winning millions of dollars in federal earmarks.
  • Rep. Leonard Lance (R) represents parts of Somerset and Union Counties in New Jersey, where the recession has sidetracked local hopes for transit-oriented development, spurred by a $153 million upgrade to the Raritan Valley Line station.
  • Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) is another backer of New Jersey’s transit-oriented development push. He has praised transit and overall energy conservation for "ensur[ing] a greater return for consumers."
  • Finally, Rep. John McHugh’s (R) rural district in northern New York may not seem like a transit hotspot. But his constituents in Plattsburgh recently got an infusion of green jobs thanks to a new bus construction plant that will build vehicles for the New York City MTA.

Is there a link between the eight Republicans’ acknowledgment of transit and their vote to buck their  leaders on the climate bill? I would say yes, although not necessarily a direct one.

What’s more important is that communities where transit plays a central role are communities where action on climate change is valued — no matter what party the local lawmaker belongs to.

  • Shemp

    Three from NJ, 1 from NY!

  • Aaron

    Cap and Tax 8 are all from northern states. Hmmm.

  • Who says Republicans cannot support transit, it means money. Transit just like highways provides for extra capacity for the economy to elevate to and take advantage of; cities that build transit are witnessing strong economic development returning to their urban cores and strengthening the American economy. In a true conservative manner, transit is a conservative measure by conserving resources that typically are spent on highways and new roadways; building transit and fewer highways allows more of those former highway and new roadway resources to not be used by the government and instead go into productive use for the private sector. And the private sector is loving the economic development potential of transit. Come on people, think like a conservative – we waste far too much on expanding our communities and pump too much into building up government to service us.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Boxer Okays Senate Climate Bill, Without Amendments or GOP

|
The Senate environment committee approved its climate change bill today on an 11-1 vote, shrugging off a boycott by all of the panel’s Republicans but missing out on the chance to consider amendments to the lengthy legislation. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: AP) The environment panel’s chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) had offered Republicans several days […]

The 2009 Capitol Hill Streetsies: Meet the Winners!

|
It’s been a momentous, dramatic year for transportation policy in Washington — which made choosing the winners of this year’s Streetsies all the more difficult. But after tallying up readers’ votes and breaking a couple of ties, we’re ready to single out the brightest (and dimmest) of 2009. Congratulations to all the winners, and Happy […]

House Transportation Bill Too Extreme for Some Republicans

|
The House GOP’s transportation bill is legislation only Big Oil can love. By eviscerating dedicated transit funds, killing programs that support safe streets, and linking transportation funding to oil drilling in the Arctic, the bill has managed to alienate everyone from environmental advocates to the ultra-conservative Club for Growth. So there’s a chance that House […]

The Senate Climate Bill Reaches a First Milestone Today — Maybe

|
The Senate environment committee is slated to begin formally voting on its climate change bill today in an atmosphere of high drama, thanks to Republican members who have vowed to boycott the proceedings in a bid to delay the legislative process. Senate environment chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), at right, with the panel’s top Republican, Jim […]

Today’s Headlines

|
Now Is the Time to Fight, Transportation Advocates (Transport Politic) Rep. De Fazio Champions Safe Routes to School Just Before Party Line Vote to Defund (Shareable) GOP Transit Bill Gets Railed From All Sides (Washington Times, Hill) Just How Big Are Subsidies to Fossil-Fuel Companies? (Grist) Climate Change Will Make You Love Big Government (Grist) […]