Senator Pat Toomey Fights to Spare America From Safe Streets

You know the Senate is close to passing transportation legislation when someone introduces a hare-brained amendment to ban bike and pedestrian programs.

Sen. Pat Toomey's answer to the transportation funding crisis is to stop funding the most cost-effective projects. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/8565245671/##Flickr/gageskidmore##
Sen. Pat Toomey’s answer to the transportation funding crisis is to stop funding the most cost-effective projects. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/8565245671/##Flickr/gageskidmore##

Sen. Ron Wyden, as promised, yesterday introduced a bill to extend MAP-21 and the Highway Trust Fund’s authority by three months. It also transfers some money from the general fund into the HTF to keep it afloat until December 31.

Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey saw that as his chance to attack bike and pedestrian programs. He inserted an amendment that he calls “To reserve federal transportation funds for national infrastructure priorities.” Those national priorities apparently don’t include safety, air quality, congestion reduction or public health. Here’s his amendment:

No funds distributed from the Highway Trust Fund established in Title 26, Sec. 9503 of the United States Code may be spent for the purpose of operating the Federal Transportation Alternatives Program.

The Transportation Alternatives Program is the tiny pot of money available for bike and pedestrian projects.

Toomey also introduced an amendment rescinding high-speed rail funds and another exempting infrastructure destroyed during a “declared emergency” from environmental reviews if they’re rebuilt in the same footprint.

Other amendments [PDF] include Wyden’s push for an expedited process to pass a long-term transportation bill (when the time comes) and a proposal from four Democratic senators to extend the transit commuter benefit at the same level as the parking benefit. 

Sen. Jay Rockefeller has an intriguing amendment to create an account within the Highway Trust Fund called the Multimodal Transportation Account. It would fund freight projects, intelligent transportation systems, and other works that don’t fit neatly into one modal silo or another.

Sen. Carper has his name on two amendments to raise the gas tax until it recoups the purchasing power it’s lost over the 21 years since it’s been set at 18.4 cents a gallon, and index it to inflation thereafter. There’s also an amendment to establish an Infrastructure Financing Authority and one to establish an American Infrastructure Fund.

  • Fahrrad

    Toomey: low hanging ‘fruit.’ Really low.

  • Patricia Kathryn Bonitz

    Senator Toomey what I would like to know when will pain medicine be made available to chronic pain sufferers? I know someone in the government cracked down on prescription pain medicine because doctors like mine are too afraid to give their patients any kind of pain relief. All of the true chronic pain sufferers like me have to suffer now because there are adult idiots out there who abused their pain medications and killed themselves. I tell you this after being up now the third day in pain that I would rather die than to suffer one more day in pain. Think about that one.

  • Dave

    Senator Toomey is really an anti-American, pro-Islamofascist terror activist. By blocking funding for projects that encourage people to do something other than drive, he is encouraging the financing of terrorist networks by encouraging oil consumption. Which Saudi royal family member has been giving this bozo campaign money? He’s obviously on the Saudi payroll big time.

  • chethardy

    When it comes to road taxes, it’s like everyone is in the Teaparty. Drivers, who receive, very roughly, a 40 cent subsidy with every gallon of gas are convinced that they are being victimized by deadbeats in electric cars and bicycle commuters.

    Sure, the most ignorant people are going to think that way anyway, but why is it so easy for other recipients of government handouts to recognize that they are receiving government largesse, and so difficult for drivers? Until attitudes change, its going to be fertile grounds for political opportunists.

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