House leaders ditch H.R. 7 for JOBS – Senate must hurdle contraception vote before MAP-21 debate

Transportation?  That’s so last week.

The latest rumors are that the House leadership is going to propose an entirely new bill focused on jobs – that may contain some shorter-term transportation spending – and vote on it next week.

The continuing H.R. 7 meltdown seems to be part of a larger rift among leaders in Washington. Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, a moderate Republican, announced yesterday that she won’t be running for re-election, primarily because of the increasing partisanship that has gridlocked Congress over the past few years.

The shake-up in the House may be an opportunity, though, and whether it’s a new bill or a re-vamped H.R. 7 , T4 America has some suggestions for how it should be different from the last version.

Others have expressed similar openness to taking a different tack. DC Streetsblog reports:

This might not be such a bad thing, surmises Steve Heminger, executive director of the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “Maybe what we have here,” Heminger said at a media conference call convened by T4America, “is an emerging consensus to buy a little time, get past the presidential election, then use that time wisely and think big again.” A two-year bill, then, would really serve as an extension of the current law while “planting the seeds,” in Heminger’s words, for a longer-term bill that would “invest in the network the way we need to.”

In the Senate, a vote on Senator Roy Blunt’s contraception amendment is on the agenda for tomorrow, as Senate leaders finalize the full list of MAP-21 amendments.  It’s likely that debate on the transportation-related amendments to the transportation bill will begin next week.

Then again, other off-topic amendments may continue to keep the heart of the bill on the sidelines.  We’ll let you know when we hear more on timing.

Regardless of what happens in the Senate, the House kerfuffle makes it a tall order to complete a transportation bill by the next extension expiration date of March 31.  Seems we’re again approaching a deadline where the only thing that’s certain is uncertainty.

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About T4 America - California

The Transportation For America coalition in CA, working to achieve a 21st century federal transportation program that is cleaner, safer, smarter, and works for us all.
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