Lawmakers in Washington are just beginning their latest attempt to craft the first long-term transportation bill in roughly a decade. The current bill expires in just a few months, on May 31, but in Congress that’s an eternity. While it’s a long way from go time, the contours of the debate are starting to become apparent.
Here’s how things are shaping up.
The White House Transportation Proposal and Anthony Foxx’s “Grow America Tour”
The Obama Administration has unveiled the broad strokes of a six-year transportation proposal, the “Grow America” plan, that would dramatically increase federal funding for transit and include key incentives to reform how state DOTs spend their billions.
Transportation Secretary Anthony set out on a four-day tour of some Southern states yesterday to promote the Grow America plan. Foxx has been enlisting local leaders to help build a push for reauthorization.
The Fight Over Transit Funding
Pushing in the opposite direction, bolstered by Koch brothers money, is the Tea Party wing of the GOP, which wants to end federal funding for anything that’s not highways.
Last week, a group of rural Republicans raised the prospect of eliminating the portion of the Highway Trust Fund that supports transit. Since Ronald Reagan signed the policy into the law in 1983, 20 percent of federal gas tax revenue has gone toward the nation’s rail and bus systems.