Three Chicagoland Republicans Defect on House Transpo Bill

Did John Boehner and and John Mica overreach with their proposal to strip dedicated funding for transit, cycling, and walking in the House transportation bill? That’s the question observers have been asking since House GOP leaders sprung this politicized legislation in committee last week.

It’s too soon to tell whether the bill will clear the House, but the list of Boehner’s members speaking out against it is growing longer.

Today, Crain’s Chicago reports that a trio of Chicagoland’s suburban Republicans have come out against the bill. Robert Dold, Judy Biggert, and Adam Kinzinger each had slightly different objections, but their dissatisfaction seems to stem from the provision that would transfer federal gas tax revenues from transit to roads. Crain’s is reporting that that provision of the bill could cost Chicago-area transit providers $450 million annually. The region also stands to lose $900 million annually in road funding if the bill passes.

A spokesman for Biggert told Crain’s: “She does not support the House bill in its current form due to concerns with its overall funding for Illinois, as well as its potential impact on long-term planning for Chicago and suburban rail systems.”

Meanwhile, Dold released a statement late yesterday, saying “he has concerns with the impact it will have on the environment, as well as the way it damages vital funding for the state of Illinois.”

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce has also come out against the bill, saying it “would put hundreds of millions of dollars for transit in real peril, while drastically reducing funding for Illinois highways.”

More House Republicans will have to reject the bill in order to kill its chances, but Crain’s reporter Greg Hinz believes that “Mr. Boehner will have to go to Plan B.”

Other Republicans opposing the bill in its current form include Ohio’s Steven LaTourette, Wisconsin’s Tom Petri and Illinois’ Tim Johnson. New York’s Peter King and Bob Turner have also expressed reservations about the proposal.