Nobody was expecting the GOP-controlled House of Representatives to put together a transportation bill that did much for streets and transit in American cities.
And they were right — there’s nothing to get excited about in the bill. But neither is it the total disaster for walking, biking, and transit it could have been. So how does the House bill stack up against the current law? It’s looking a little worse.
Amendments to the bill were heard earlier this week, and the final bill was passed just hours ago. Some last-minute changes made it in, but in general not the ones that would help modernize the nation’s transportation policy and reduce our dependence on driving.
The final House bill includes a $40 billion funding patch to cover the gas tax shortfall, which means it now has funding for six years instead of three. But the new money is very gimmicky. At the last minute, Texas Republican Randy Neugebauer introduced an amendment to raid the Federal Reserve’s Capital Surplus Account, and it was approved overwhelmingly.
Prior to that, House leaders had not indicated (or figured out) how they intended to pay for the bill. Yesterday, they refused to even hear an amendment from Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer to raise the gas tax.
Neugebauer’s amendment allowed lawmakers to pass the long-term bill industry and government agencies have been begging for without doing the responsible (and politically courageous) thing and finding a revenue source that doesn’t amount to a desperate one-shot.