Transportation Advocates Turn Attention to the House
The House was caught by surprise in July when the Senate introduced and approved the DRIVE Act, a bipartisan, six-year transportation bill. Up until that point, the House was focused on additional short-term extensions to keep transportation funds flowing. With no long-term proposal to consider, Senate leaders sensed an opportunity and urged the House to quickly approve the DRIVE Act before the August recess. House leaders resisted the gambit, and instead pushed through another two-month extension for transportation funding. That extension ends on October 29, and House leaders are on the hook to deliver their own long-term proposal before time runs out. The House bill may represent the final opportunity for city advocates to have an impact on federal surface transportation programs over the next six years.
Although NLC supported the Drive Act as an improvement over the status quo, some shortcomings remained. The DRIVE Act would enact policy changes sought by cities to restore certainty in the planning and financing of transportation projects and to improve local control; however, the DRIVE Act would also perpetuate funding cuts to local areas that were enacted three years ago under the previous transportation bill, MAP-21. Under this law, local areas share of Surface Transportation Funds was reduced by 20 percent.
NLC is urging the House to introduce a bill that restores Surface Transportation Funds to local areas. To kick-off our efforts, Mayor Becker joined with the leaders of other local government groups including USCM and NACo to deliver a message to the House encouraging it to increase funding and authority for local decision-makers and to place a renewed emphasis on locally-owned infrastructure.
During the month of October, NLC is calling on local leaders to share this message with their House congressional delegation. Do your part and deliver a copy of Mayor Becker's letter, along with your support, to your Representative!