We are sharing an important message from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
There is currently a flurry of activity related to federal transportation policy in Congress.
The bad news is that direct attacks on trails, walking and biking have intensified. Last week, Representatives Sam Johnson (TX) and Vicky Hartzler (MO) introduced H.R. 2609, which would eliminate the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). But the good news is, resistance from TAP allies has led more pragmatic opponents to increasingly understand that they are not likely to completely eliminate the federal role in building active-transportation networks.
Most urgently, Johnson and Hartzler may try to amend the Transportation Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill up for consideration on the House floor tomorrow to prohibit spending on TAP in FY2016.
To counter this, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy issued an action alert this morning. You can especially help increase our impact by sending a similar message today or early tomorrow. Beyond that, the alert remains relevant, though, as the bill could also be pursued through reauthorization channels.
We wish to thank those of you-more than 300 groups in all-who signed the group letter in support of TAP. Once we had finished collecting names in May, the Congressional debate was focused entirely on how long to extend MAP-21. So, we chose to hold the letter until June, when Congress would be actively debating surface transportation policy. As a result, we are now in the advantageous position of dropping the letter on Capitol Hill tomorrow not only as the policy debate heats up, but also as a rapid response to this latest attack. Please reinforce this pro-TAP message in any interactions you have with federal decision-makers.
If you’re looking for more detail about why this is a critical period for reauthorization, please take a look at the backgrounder below my signature.
Thanks, as always, for your incredible work on behalf of TAP. Reps. Johnson and Hartzler’s ideological attacks on TAP are not the first, and they certainly won’t be the last (see, e.g., H.R. 1620 by Rep. Forbes (VA) to eliminate walking and bicycling planning requirements and restrict TAP spending).
Together, though, we have convinced more pragmatic opponents that we are not an easy mark. We need to keep the heat on until Congress recognizes that attacks on TAP lie well out of the mainstream of American opinion and priorities.
Senior Vice President of Policy
We are operating under a two-month extension of MAP-21 until the end of July.
- Lack of consensus regarding how to deal with the funding gap of over $15 billion between the revenue currently generated by gas taxes and authorized transportation spending levels is the fundamental barrier to moving forward. The House is unlikely to release a draft bill without a long-term revenue solution.
- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has set a mark-up for June 24th for the portions of the transportation bill under their jurisdiction, including TAP. The next month is a crucial period for negotiating policies which could become part of the next reauthorization (whenever it ultimately happens). Committee leaders continue to work towards a bipartisan proposal that would be difficult for members of either party to derail.
- We predict another extension before the end of July. Most observers believe, however, that if a deal is not reached before the end of the year, we will likely have to wait until 2017 as the politics for reauthorization are unlikely to align during a Presidential election year.
- Read more from RTC’s blog, or go directly to our national poll showing overwhelming public support for federal investment in trails, walking and biking.