Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Bicycling

Klobuchar & Webb: Dems’ Unlikely Opponents of Bike-Ped Investment

Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) attempt to curb federal investment in bicycle and pedestrian paths, as well as other "transportation enhancements," was defeated on the Senate floor today -- but it managed to pick up two unlikely Democratic supporters in the process.

87913182_Vrns4_M.jpgA college-age Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), with her father at right. (Photo: Klobuchar for Senate)

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jim Webb (D-VA) voted with Coburn to allow states to opt out of a current mandate to spend 10 percent of federal transportation aid on bike and pedestrian paths, bike-ped safety education, and other programs.

Coburn's amendment fell short by a vote of 39-59, with three other Democrats, Sens. Russ Feingold (WI), Evan Bayh (IN), and Claire McCaskill (MO), also aligning with the majority of Republicans in favor of the opt-out.

Feingold, Bayh, and McCaskill are fiscal hawks who frequently vote to limit the scope of government spending, making their votes less surprising than Klobuchar and Webb's -- if just as disheartening for clean transportation advocacy groups.

Klobuchar in particular hails from a state where bicycling is a popular element of local culture. She has spoken often of her personal appreciation of biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities, and welcomed a 14-year-old climate activist to Washington after the young girl's 1,500-mile bike ride.

Klobuchar's office has not yet responded to an inquiry about her vote on Coburn's two amendments to the Senate spending bill that funds U.S. DOT for next year. The second Coburn amendment that fell short today was a modified version of his earlier proposal to restrict all "transportation enhancements."

Even when limited to only block funding for transportation museums, however, the second Coburn plan was defeated on a 41-57 vote.

One GOP amendment that did make it into the DOT spending bill was Sen. Roger Wicker's (R-MS) proposal to allow Amtrak riders to carry guns and ammunition locked in their checked baggage. Twenty-seven Democrats joined all 41 Republicans to approve the proposal.

Late Update: Webb's vote was not cast in opposition to bike-ped spending, spokeswoman Jessica Smith said -- she noted that several members of his staff are bicycle commuters and that he voted against Coburn's second attempt to cut transportation spending today. Rather, Smith added, Webb's vote on the first Coburn amendment was intended to give states more flexibility in their transportation budgets during the economic downturn.

Late Late Update: Klobuchar spokesman John Davis responds:

This vote was about giving states discretion as they face verydifficult economic times.  Senator Klobuchar has long supported andwill continue to support bike and pedestrian paths.  See, for example,her vote to table Senate Amendment 2811 to the FY 2008 Transportationbill, which would have cut out funding for bike paths.  SenatorKlobuchar would also like to move forward on a new transportation billwhich should include funding for roads, bridges, mass transit and bikeand pedestrian paths.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Wednesday’s Headlines Are Running on Empty

Fewer commutes to downtown offices means less money to fund transit services, even as money for autocentric infrastructure keeps right on flowing.

April 17, 2024

What to Say When Someone Claims ‘No One Bikes or Walks in Bad Weather’

Yes, sustainable modes are more vulnerable to bad weather. But that's why we should invest more in them — not less.

April 17, 2024

Chicago Announces $2M Federal Grant to Address Harms Caused By I-290

The Mayor's Office says the money will fund "improvements for people walking and bicycling on existing streets and paths surrounding and crossing the corridor."

April 16, 2024

Car Crashes by City Workers Cost NYC Taxpayers $180M in Payouts Last Year: Report

A record number of victims of crashes involving city employees in city-owned cars filed claims in fiscal year 2023 — and settlements with victims have jumped 23 percent, a new report shows.

April 16, 2024

Tuesday’s Headlines Are Driving Inflation

Driving — specifically, the cost of car ownership — is one of the main factors behind inflation, according to the Eno Center for Transportation.

April 16, 2024
See all posts