Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
2009 Transportation Bill

Voinovich: Business Buy-in Can Get a New Transportation Bill Done

3:22 PM EDT on June 25, 2009

George Voinovich (R-OH) may be the only senator who wants to forget about an 18-month extension of existing transportation law and move ahead quickly on broad reform. But that doesn't mean he's giving up.

george_voinovich.07.19.07_lrg.jpgSen. George Voinovich (R-OH), rendered by political caricaturist Kerry Waghorn.

Getting business interests to work on methods for funding a long-term transportation bill can help shift the political climate, he told Streetsblog Capitol Hill today after Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) vowed to continue searching for revenue raisers that can pay for massive new legislation.

"Right now, the president is frankly worried about health care, climate change, a lot of other things [and may have said] 'see, I don't need another thing on my plate,'" Voinovich said.

But, he added, the White House would likely come around if the private sector -- which has "been heretofore reluctant ... to step up" -- is willing to shoulder some of the extra tax burden needed to pay for increased infrastructure investment.

Voinovich made a passionate argument for taking up the House transportation bill, which he noted would help lower carbon emissions by encouraging greater use of transit and less auto dependence. But his ability to turn the tide in the Senate may be hurt by his imminent retirement from Congress, the insistence of the environment panel's senior Republican on a "clean" 18-month extension -- and the cold hard fact, as Voinovich put it, that "most of my colleagues haven't even looked at" the House bill.

The business lobby's readiness to bear extra costs in a bad economy is another factor. As Voinovich spoke to Streetsblog, he flagged down Jack Basso, director of program finance at the road-lobby group AASHTO.

The senator suggested pushing for a transportation funding extension shorter than 18 months, "to put the pressure on to get this thing done by next year." In response, Basso would say only that "we're supportive of the Oberstar [House] bill moving forward."

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

NYC Debuts Public E-Bike Charging for Delivery Workers

Finally, they’re taking charge! The city’s first public e-bike charging station opened in Cooper Square on Thursday — the start of an overdue six-month pilot that is part of a “Charge Safe Ride Safe Action Plan” for delivery workers that Mayor Adams announced last year.

March 1, 2024

Friday’s Headlines Have Questions

What's an optimal rebate to get people to buy e-bikes without wasting money on those who were going to buy one anyway?

March 1, 2024

To Recruit Transit Workers, More Than Just Higher Pay Is Needed

Labor shortages continue threatening public transit systems, and a new report adds another layer to the conversation.

February 29, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: Streets for Skateboards

Aaron Breetwor on skateboards for transportation and designing streets for safer skateboarding.

February 29, 2024

Agencies Need to Use Federal Funding to Buy Land for Transit Oriented Development

Transit agencies do not prioritize transit-adjacent housing development often because they lack funding to acquire land.

February 29, 2024
See all posts