From our friends at the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy:
“In a sign that the American Energy and Infrastructure Act (H.R. 7) may lack support to pass the House as it is currently presented, House Republican leaders announced yesterday afternoon they would dismantle H.R. 7 and submit its individual elements to the floor for separate discussion.
With a single-minded focus on roads, the House’s transportation bill would eliminate dedicated funding for trails, walking and bicycling infrastructure, the Safe Routes to Schools program, and even transit after a limited grace period. H.R. 7 was instantly unpopular across the political spectrum and provoked an unprecedented backlash from the public, industry professionals and transportation advocates, including Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC).
Breaking the news at just after 1 p.m. Tuesday, Bloomberg BNA said the “reversal could be an indication that Republicans lack the votes in their own caucus to pass the full package.”
According to Bloomberg, “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.), however, characterized the dissection as a change from ‘the era of quickly moving massive bills across the floor without proper examination.'”
Kevin Mills, RTC’s vice president of policy and trail development, says the House’s realization of the extent of opposition to the bill should be tremendously heartening for all the groups and individuals who had emailed and called representatives to express their dismay.
However, Mills says it is vitally important that supporters of trails, biking and walking infrastructure continue to make themselves heard in the Senate, as it also considers a bill that would hobble the popular Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails programs.
“Now that we have collectively forced proper scrutiny of misguided transportation legislation in the House, we need to turn our attention to the Senate,” says Mills. “While the Senate bill as it passed committee is also deeply flawed from the standpoint of trails, bicycling and walking, Senate floor amendments could potentially repair the integrity of our core programs and thereby craft a positive alternative to the unworkable House bill.”
RTC is urging all its friends and allies to support two amendments to the Senate bill.
Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) have introduced an amendment (Amdt. #1549) that would ensure communities a fair shot at dedicating funding for trails, walking and bicycling.
Senator Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will introduce an amendment that would restore the Recreational Trails Program.
Take just a few moments to complete this automated email form and tell your Senators that trails, walking and biking are an important part of America’s future.”
Parks & Trails New York is also working to keep abreast of this ever-evolving situation, and we will keep you updated as things progress.