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Reauthorization Bills for TEA-21

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  • Douglas Vu
    Colleagues, For your information regarding reauthorization bills for TEA-21: November 24, 2003 Political Landscape Cara Woodson Welch Congress is working
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25, 2003

      For your information regarding reauthorization bills
      for TEA-21:

      November 24, 2003
      Political Landscape

      Cara Woodson Welch

      Congress is working aggressively towards its goal of
      adjournment before Thanksgiving. Work is continuing in
      the House and Senate on TEA-21 Reauthorization Bills.
      On Wednesday, November 19, 2003, the House Committee
      on Transportation and Infrastructure released the
      Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU)
      Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Chairman of the House Committee
      on Transportation and Infrastructure, reportedly has
      named the bill after his wife, Lu. At the press
      conference, Rep. Petri (R-WI), Chairman of the
      Highways, Transit & Pipelines Subcommittee, spoke
      about the broad bipartisan coalition that will be
      needed to get the reauthorization bill done.

      On Thursday, November 20, 2003, the 481-page bill was
      introduced as H.R. 3550. Significant sections of the
      bill have not been completed. For example, project
      delivery sections are still being negotiated. H.R.
      3550 provides $375 billion in new funding, which is
      significantly more than in the President's proposed
      bill, SAFETEA, at $247 billion. The bill assumes that
      adequate funding resources will be identified to pay
      for this increase. In other words, the controversy
      over how to pay for TEA-21 reauthorization still
      looms. Gas tax? Bond financing? Other? Congress still
      has to do the work to find the money. ASLA continues
      to strategize and meet with allied organizations to
      discuss the most effective advocacy actions. Several
      ASLA priorities are in the TEA-LU bill. For example,
      TEA-LU will provide $1.5 billion over 6 years in
      formula funding for a new safe-routes-to-school
      program that will encourage communities to adopt
      strategies and fund projects designed to allow
      children to bike and walk to school safely. For more
      details on the House bill, see the summary released by
      the committee on Wednesday.

      As reported earlier the Senate Environment and Public
      Works Committee held a markup on S. 1072, its TEA-21
      Reauthorization Bill (introduced October 27, 2003), on
      November 12, 2003. The $255 billion bill was adopted
      by the Committee on a voice vote of 17-2. Senator
      Graham (D- FL) and Senator Wyden (D-OR) opposed the
      adoption. S. 1072 was strongly supported by the
      committee leaders (and authors)--Sen. James Inhofe
      (R-OK), chairman of the EPW Committee; Sen. James
      Jeffords (I-VT), the committee's ranking member; Sen.
      Kit Bond (R-MO), chairman of the Subcommittee on
      Transportation and Infrastructure; and Sen. Harry Reid
      (D-NV), ranking member on the Subcommittee on
      Transportation and Infrastructure--who stuck together
      by opposing any additional amendments submitted by
      members during markup.

      The text of the 1,111-page bill as passed by the
      committee was released as a draft on Thursday,
      November 20, 2003. ASLA is still reviewing the draft
      bill. However, we do know that S. 1072 includes
      several sections that ASLA and others advocated for in
      a letter to the committee before markup. Download a
      pdf copy of the coalition letter.

      ASLA and others strongly opposed weakening 4F
      standards. On the day of the markup, both the
      Washington Post and the New York Times ran editorials
      opposing weakening 4F. Although some members of the
      committee had planned to offer amendments to do that,
      at the markup no amendments were offered; therefore,
      the bill does not contain specific language adverse to
      4F. ASLA and others advocated for an increase in
      planning funds for Metropolitan Planning
      Organizations. Senator Warner (R-VA) and Senator
      Graham (D-Fl) offered an amendment to raise the
      planning funds (PL) to a 1 � percent set aside (up
      from one percent). This amendment passed on a voice
      vote. ASLA and others strongly supported a new
      safe-routes-to school program. Senator Crapo (R-ID)
      offered an amendment that provides $70 million for
      safe routes to school and expands the eligibility to
      include K-12 schools and all public roads within 2
      miles of the school. The Transportation and Community
      and System Preservation Program--another program ASLA
      has been monitoring was amended to reinstate the
      Transportation and Community and System Preservation
      Program as a national grant program funded at $50
      million. ASLA was concerned about maintaining equity
      in the surface transportation program funding and was
      pleased that Senator Clinton's (D-NY) amendment
      maintaining funding parity for the surface
      transportation program and the current share
      distribution between states and locals prevailed on a
      recorded vote of 10-9. ASLA was extremely pleased to
      see Senator Warner (R-VA) and Senator Chafee (R-RI)
      offer an amendment to set aside 2 percent of surface
      transportation funds for stormwater improvement. This
      amendment also passed on a recorded 10-9 vote. Other
      issues that ASLA supported during its lobby day were
      also included in the bill:

      Context sensitive design: new language to encourage
      states to design projects that will allow, among other
      things, for the preservation of environmental, scenic,
      or historic values and provide for the consideration
      of the context of the locality.

      Transportation enhancements

      Scenic byways

      Bicycle and pedestrian facilities

      Recreation trails program

      Congestion mitigation and air quality: increase in
      funding but not enough to adequately cover new
      entrants that enter the program and provide for those
      already in the program with higher needs.

      Federal lands highway program

      Both houses of Congress insist that they will be able
      to complete their bills by the February 2004 deadline.
      In his opening statement on November 12, 2003 Senator
      Inhofe stated,

      After a long, bipartisan, collaborative process, the
      committee has crafted a very strong bill, one that
      will create jobs, promote economic growth, and address
      the nation's surface transportation needs. It is my
      hope that as Congress returns next year, the Senate
      will consider this legislation as its first order of
      business, enabling us to conference with the House and
      send the bill to the President's desk as quickly as

      ASLA continues to work with both the House and Senate
      staff and members to express ASLA concerns and top
      transportation legislative priorities.

      Cara Woodson Welch is ASLA's government affairs
      director. Contact her cwelch@....

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