House GOP Moves to Decimate Dedicated Transit Funding

In a move that should dispel any remaining thoughts that the House transportation bill [PDF] will ever be signed into law, the Ways and Means Committee announced today that they will try to forbid gas tax revenue from funding transit.

House Ways and Means chair Dave Camp (R-MI) and Speaker John Boehner. Photo: ##http://talkingpointsmemo.com/images/dave-camp-john-boehner.jpg##Talking Points Memo##

The Ways & Means bill [PDF] would funnel all gas tax revenue toward road programs, redirecting billions of dollars per year away from transit, which for decades has received about 20 percent of fuel tax receipts. Instead, the House GOP wants transit funding to come entirely from the general fund, pitting transit against all other government spending. To offset that spending, $40 billion would have to be cut from the rest of the federal budget.

Essentially, the House GOP is holding transit hostage to achieve budget cuts elsewhere — and they don’t seem to care if the hostage dies. They will also be tossing aside a precedent set during the Reagan administration, one that has enjoyed bipartisan support through several transportation bills, including the 2005 law, known as SAFETEA-LU, which was passed by a Republican president and Republican Congress.

Dan Smith of USPIRG put it like this:

The House Ways and Means Bill stops just short of defunding America’s public transit system. Instead it says that the real money with a funding source will all go to highways, while the tooth fairy will pay for transit. For Big Oil and the highway lobby, this is a dream, but it’s a nightmare for America’s transportation future.

In keeping with the secretive nature of the current House’s transportation reauthorization process, the announcement comes just one day before Ways and Means will mark up the bill. There is even less time to protect transit funding in the House bill than there was to protect bike/ped programs in today’s T&I markup.

  • Jerard Wright

    We have to act and let the House know that this is unacceptable

  • I can’t quite figure out which dark, dystopian, sci-fi fantasy world the House GOP is striving for. I’m guessing one where the air is full of hazy pollution, the infrastructure is decrepit, and the population spends all its time in vehicles without ever getting anywhere. (The Dr. Who episode “Gridlock,” for example, with sprinklings of Blade Runner, Brazil, and Wall-E for good measure?) I wonder if the folks in Washington realize these tales are meant to be cautionary rather than aspirational?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Why doesn’t Streetsblog note that Democrats are little better, and start describing the situation for what it is — a generational war.

    Younger generations are poorer than older generations were, and will inherit the consequences of their debts.  It is likely that a much smaller share want one car per adult; it is certain that they can’t afford it.  

    Transit use is going up because younger generations are relying on it as they enter the workforce.  Transit service is going down because older generations keep running up the bills for themselves.

  • Green2bhealthy

    Our country is devolving before our very eyes.  It’s time to have serious discussions with out elected officials.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Common error in usage:

    Decimate means to destroy one-tenth of.  It was a form of discipline used in the Roman army.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimation_(Roman_army)  Figuratively, it means to damage severely but not destroy completely.

    Unfortunately, they are doing much worse than that to transit funding. 

    The correct word is “devastate.”

  • Rob

    They have the ways and the means to not only ignore the urgent need to
    improve and expand transit in urban areas, but to also perpetuate the
    same worn out auto-oriented strategies that have shown over and over are
    no longer generating positive return on investment, as they did several
    decades ago. Not only are they endorsing out-dated strategies while
    expecting different outcomes, but they are at the same time rolling-back
    what little improvement was made – eliminating transit funding is
    absurd and reflects the depth and breadth of intellectual detachment
    they have from important decisions they are responsible for.

    Yes, I’m in a caveman suit. I’m preparing for the direction Ways and Means is sending us – backwards . . . way back.

    Keep
    transit funding, ditch highway expansions, and implement variable rate
    congestion pricing in combination with high quality, affordable, and
    reliable transit alternatives providing service in congested urban
    corridors. Keep the revenues to serve the corridors in which they are
    collected – money collected in the corridor stays in the corridor for
    both transit and highway capital and operating expenses.

    It’s a no-brainer, but we don’t have the ways and means to support it.

  • Erashinsky

    This Republican party is so out of reach with mainstream America.  From day one of this Presidency, as Mitch McConnell said he was going to make sure this was a one term president.   How did he know anything about his policies etc. at this time?   I can’t but think he was not pleased that an African American was elected as President.  The biases and bigotry of the Republican party has reared its ugly head to the detriment of the American people as well as the bias against women.

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