No, we’re serious!
The Senate today voted 74-22 to pass the transportation bill S. 1813, as amended over the past week. (Need a refresher on key amendments? The final amendment tracker is right here, with amendments sorted into “transportation related” and other.)
The passage of MAP-21, aka S. 1813, is a notable victory not only for transportation, but also for Senator Barbara Boxer. Senator Boxer worked tirelessly to craft a bipartisan bill that would satisfy her colleagues on both sides of the aisle as well as her constituency at home.
One of the trickiest plays over the past two weeks was the inclusion of the Cardin-Cochran amendment for local control in a managers’ package on March 1. Californians had much to gain from this amendment, which increased local communities’ ability to access funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. We applaud the Senator for negotiating this and other policy points to find agreement with Senators Inhofe and McConnell, and successfully passing a bill that will make a difference for our state and the nation.
Two final amendments were adopted before the final vote this morning, including a Boxer-introduced measure to encourage states to expedite permitting and environmental review in the wake of a disaster. This amendment was offered as an alternative to a Rand Paul amendment that would have lifted requirements for environmental reviews, approvals, licensing and permit for rebuilding projects closed due to safety reasons, according to the NRDC blog. The Boxer amendment affirmed current law that already provides these projects with more lenient review. The Paul amendment failed to advance and was not included in the final bill.
Please take a moment today to congratulate and thank Senator Boxer for her hard work and effective results.
Unfortunately, Congress still has work to do to avoid a DOT shutdown on April 1. With the House in recess until next Monday, there is precious little time for Representatives to pass their own bill and get it signed by the President before the end-of-month deadline. And if the next two weeks are anything like the two weeks leading up to the recess, House leadership is far from ready to marshal swift action on transportation policy.
There have been many calls for the House to pass the Senate bill, which has demonstrated bipartisanship by winning the support of nearly three-quarters of the nation’s Senators. Technically, they cannot adopt S. 1813, as spending bills must originate in the House (per the U.S. Constitution as implemented by the House). However, they would do well to consider S. 1813 as a template for the kind of transportation policy that will succeed in a divided Congress.
Because if the Senate can overcome the filibuster and pass a major piece of legislation in a Presidential election year, the House has no excuse not to follow suit!