Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad House Transportation Bill? (UPDATED)

The US House recently unveiled their proposed Transportation Bill. And it’s horrible in pretty much every way: It gives the shaft to pretty much any mode of transport that doesn’t have an exhaust pipe; and proposes to pay for it all with a big heavy dose of drill baby, drill. It’s been roundly criticized by lots of folks–here’s Congressman Blumenauer’s take. Here’s another attack against the bill. Reams of apocalyptic articles have been written about the thing.

The criticisms of this bill are all on-point, except for one thing. It’s not going to pass. Oh, it will likely pass the House. But it’s not likely to become law.

Like much coming out of the US House this past Congress, its not designed to pass. It’s a political statement by Tea Party conservatives, hoping to run on an anti-environmental platform. It’s campaign fodder. If you like, it’s part of the extended temper tantrum we’ve seen from the House in the past year.

But what it isn’t–is a serious proposal. The Senate isn’t going to pass such a transparently partisan bill. President Obama would likely veto it in a heartbeat should it reach his desk.

What transportation bill is going to pass? Likely, none. Instead the existing transpo bill, which expires on March 31, may be re-extended, meaning infrastructure development will limp along. (That’s assuming the House doesn’t try and take the straightforward extension hostage, a tactic which wouldn’t surprise me).

There is a proposed amendment to the bill that makes it less terrible, and may get some support from the majority party in the House (Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler from SW Washington might get involved); but whether or not this amendment will succeed (and if it does, make the bill acceptable to Democrats) is another question.

Portland Transport, as a non-profit entity, can’t make recommendations on races for elected office. And as a practical matter, other Congresswoman Beutler, the congressional delegation from the Portland metro area is not behind this bill. But we are able to raise issues like this one, and remind readers that if you want support for good quality active transportation, you need to demand it from your elected officials. And for those officials who refuse, you all know what to do.


The amendment in question, which would restore funding to the Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes programs, has failed in committee, 27-29. Congresswoman Beutler voted against.

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