Despite incredibly broad opposition to the House Ways and Means Committee’s assault on public transportation funding, California Congressmen Wally Herger and Devin Nunes voted to end three decades of bipartisan investment in transit this morning.
The proposal to move public transportation and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund would devastate public transportation nationwide by eliminating dedicated funding for transit and subjecting transit and CMAQ to the annual budget showdown while highway funding remains protected.
In less than half a day, a national groundswell generated a sign-on letter opposing the measure, with more than 600 national, state and local organizations joined with mayors, governors, state DOTs and others in strong opposition — a letter which was waved around and cited during the markup. The 93 California signers to the letter included such heavyweights as the California Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the Mayors of Fresno and Oakland. Other notable opponents on the national scene included the bipartisan Building America’s Future coalition and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
Nonetheless, an amendment to strike the anti-transit provisions failed and the full bill (H.R. 3864) passed by a vote of 20 to 17. Californians should express their disappointment to Reps. Herger and Nunes for their votes, and thank Rep. Mike Thompson for standing up for transit at today’s hearing.
The Ways and Means vote comes on the heels of a nearly 18-hour markup of transportation policy legislation on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee yesterday. The bill, called “the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen” by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, will now move to the House floor for a vote, currently scheduled for the week of February 13.