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Amendment to save TE, Safe Routes fails by 2 votes

Posted by on February 2nd, 2012 at 8:49 am

Clark County and SW Washington House Rep.
Jamie Herrera Beutler voted against an
amendment that would have set
aside funds for Safe Routes to School
and other projects to improve biking.
(Still from Committee video)

It was very close; but despite passionate defense of biking and walking by House T & I Committee member Peter DeFazio (D-Eugene), the Petri/Johnson amendment failed this morning by a vote of 29-27.

The amendment — which would have reinstated set-asides for Transportation Enhancements and the Safe Routes to School program — was debated this morning during the first markup hearing of the House transportation bill (a.k.a. the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act).

“Look parents in the eye and say: We can’t afford to help your kids to get to school safely.”
— Rep. Peter DeFazio, House T&I Committee member during defense of Safe Routes to School

The vote was mostly split down party lines, with just three out of the 32 Republican members voting for the amendment. In addition to Reps Petri and Johnson, New Jersey Republican Frank Lobiondo also supported it. All the Democrats voted for it. (See the full list here.)

In his opening remarks, Rep. DeFazio was notably angry, accusing the committee members of never even reading the text of the several hundred page bill that was just released on Tuesday. Watch DeFazio’s opening remarks below:

When the Petri/Johnson amendment — which would have reinstated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School — came up for debate, DeFazio launched into a stirring defense of making streets safe for kids to bike and walk to school…

We don’t have all the details of testimony by other committee members (we’ll look for archive footage of the hearing), but one notable “no” vote to the amendment was Southwest Washington Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler.

In another move reported from the debate this morning, the House bill would make a major change to transit funding and to a major source of bicycle-related funding, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) fund. According to the Transportation Issues Daily blog, the bill would rename the Mass Transit Account (a set-aside pot funded via gas tax revenue) to the Alternative Transportation Account and would fund it through the General Fund. CMAQ would also be moved to the General Fund. Advocates fear this will make transit and CMAQ funds much less reliable in the future.

The failure of the Petri/Johnson amendment means the House bill will continue to be debated and marked up. And before it becomes law, the bill would have to be reconciled with a Senate version — so while this highway-centric legislation is frustrating and frankly shocking, there’s still a long road ahead.

Even so, bike advocates are now emboldened after this defeat. Via Twitter this morning, BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky wrote: “What does the amendment loss mean? It means battle front moves to Salem. Join the @BTAOregon army.” And national advocacy group America Bikes said, “Today’s [hearing] was just one battle in the struggle to preserve biking walking in the federal transportation system. Onward!”

And here’s how the League of America Bicyclists has responded:

“The amendment lost by just two votes. This was a strong showing in a very difficult political environment. The House leadership strongly opposed the amendment, so our strong thanks goes to Reps. Petri, Johnson, and LoBiondo for standing with their constituents and people everywhere who value walking and biking. If these Congressmen represent you, please let them know you recognize their efforts.”

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Comments
  • sorebore February 2, 2012 at 8:50 am

    total b.s..

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • 9watts February 2, 2012 at 9:04 am

    crumbs.

    take the lane.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Chris I February 2, 2012 at 9:43 am

      Get hit by car. Driver gets off because you “were cheating into the lane”.

      http://bikeportland.org/2012/01/30/odot-employee-dies-after-being-hit-while-riding-on-rural-salem-road-66219

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • 9watts February 2, 2012 at 9:49 am

        I know. Maybe fixing that should be the focus if we’re having such trouble with SRTS? You know, cop re-education, vehicular manslaughter laws, etc.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicular_homicide

        Recommended Thumb up 5

        • Chris I February 2, 2012 at 10:39 am

          I still would rather have facilities that prevent me from getting hit by a car in the first place. Of course we need to punish the drivers, but prevention is better than punishment after the fact.

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          • 9watts February 2, 2012 at 10:45 am

            “facilities that prevent me from getting hit by a car in the first place.”
            I am not sure that exists/will ever happen, short of cars being phased out, which I know is going to happen.
            But more importantly, I think we know enough to say that if law enforcement, rules, social norms, etc. presented a credible deterrent to the current run-over-cyclist-and-face-no-consequences situation we could imagine a much safer set of conditions for those of us on bikes.

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            • sorebore February 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm

              All this crap about “not seeing the recumbent” “gravel FORCED the CYCLIST out INTO the roadway” HAS GOT TO FLIPPIN’ STOP!!! FGS! On my bicycle today, I almost ran over a LEGLESS MAN on a SKATEBOARD, while he was in the cross walk proper. IF I HAD HIT HIM, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN MY FAULT, period! When is the rhetoric that seems protect motorists that ‘ef-up goin to stop? America, ain’t she great?

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  • Mike Quigley February 2, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Good work Faz! I’ve always been puzzled about why republicans hate bicycles, kids and education. WAITAMINUTE! Here’s why. GOD hates at least the kids and education part. There must be a bicycle tie-in somewhere:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/shadrack-mcgill-alabama-teacher-pay-bible_n_1247765.html

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Oliver February 2, 2012 at 9:52 am

    DeFazio being awesome, as usual. The Herrera vote is notable, but not at all surprising. She’s a T-bag, and signed on with Norquist as well.

    Sad.

    Another reason to hate Clark Co. car commuters. Negative, yes, but I’m not really interested in building bridges.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Stan February 2, 2012 at 10:25 am

    “Look parents in the eye and say: We can’t afford to help your kids to get to school safely.”
    — Rep. Peter DeFazio, House T&I Committee member during defense of Safe Routes to School

    Republican response would be

    My kids safely get to school in the back seat of my Chevy Suburban

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Chris I February 2, 2012 at 10:40 am

      Correction: “My obese children…”

      Recommended Thumb up 12

      • Nickey robo February 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm

        Genetics makes kids fat, not SUVs. Riding bikes helps kids be happy and healthy, not get skinny.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • 9watts February 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm

          hey 9watts. I’ve deleted this comment because it was sort of nasty. Please be kind to Ms. Robo. Thanks — JM

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Chris I February 2, 2012 at 8:41 pm

          Genetics? Really? Care to show us the science on that? I was under the impression that it was a complicated relationship between diet, activity, and metabolism…

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          • 9watts February 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm

            My point, and perhaps I didn’t say it well, was that we have in this country a campaign to eliminate obesity in children in one generation, and if the cause of obesity were as simple as Ms. Robo says, then there would be no reason to have a campaign & no chance of its success.

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              • Nickey Robo February 2, 2012 at 11:33 pm

                Chris I is correct that it is a complicated relationship of factors, but science suggests that genetics is the largest factor. Fat folks have fat kids, skinny folks have skinny kids. How many people do you know who have radically different body types than their parents/grandparents? I highly, highly recommend reading the book Rethinking Thin for more on this.

                Let me use myself as an example. I am obese (statistically, anyway, you probably would not see me and think that I am all that big). I bike approx. 15 miles a day, I swim and run regularly, I rarely drink alcohol and have been a vegetarian for most of my life. But my paternal grandparents were both obese, and so am I, and so are all my cousins… but it doesn’t inherently mean I’m not healthy.

                My real point here, though, is let’s not take the easy road of stigmatizing fat kids (they get enough of that, just ask a fat kid). Or stigmatizing their parents or really any individual choices. The health crisis our society is in fundamentally caused by systemic problems, like the lack of funding for biking and walking programs as detailed in this article. Making fun of an imaginary fat kid being driven around does not get us anywhere. Really, it just makes you look like a jerk.

                Can’t we be in favor of these programs because biking and walking makes kids happy and it’s good for their brains and their spirits? Some people are just going to be fat, no matter what you do.

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  • Joe February 2, 2012 at 10:25 am

    what a drag! feel sorry for the youth they suffer.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lance P. February 2, 2012 at 10:40 am

    It’s all about money.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Brian E February 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Makes me think: If we get rid of schools then we won’t need a Safe routes to School program. Win/Win on the budget.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Matt February 2, 2012 at 11:33 am

        Ron Paul???

        Recommended Thumb up 1

      • sorebore February 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm

        They have almost accomplished this task, if you have not noticed.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Rick Bernardi February 2, 2012 at 11:24 am

    As important as the Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School programs are, this bill is so toxic that it can’t be fixed simply by restoring funding for those programs.

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  • Barney February 2, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Sad to say that because government spending is so out of control in general, beneficial programs like this become vulnerable. Our representatives in congress must make these hard choices because there is no more money! Although it seems a little late now, if you want to keep funding for cycling programs like this you must demand that something else be cut. Something that not only yours but also other representatives can agree with. The current level of deficit spending will only produce more cuts to cycling programs.

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    • Rick Bernardi February 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

      Big Oil gets $20 billion annually in subsidies. Bike funding is a miniscule fraction of that. If the Republicans were even slightly serious about cutting spending, they could start with the subsidies to the oil industry.

      Recommended Thumb up 8

    • 9watts February 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      “if you want to keep funding for cycling programs like this you must demand that something else be cut.”

      Easy. Pentagon budget. Fossil fuel subsidies. Oil Wars. GM bailout. NASA.

      “Something that not only yours but also other representatives can agree with.”

      Oh. Right.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • Chris I February 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        NASA’s work benefits humanity. They are enabling climate science, among other things.

        We’ll be spending over $700 billion dollars on “defense” this year. I would much rather see this money go to NASA, and to rebuilding our infrastructure at home, than pissed away overseas. Think about what we could accomplish with even 1% of that money towards active transportation.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Barney February 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

        Niner,
        That’s a list of the usual suspects, nothing new there! But if that’s all you’ve got then that is why we are where we are today, watching bicycling funding being cut. The recent increase in deficit spending isn’t only about the military and bailouts. Until we can find the resolve to stop deficit spending then we should get used to headlines like this one.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Rick Bernardi February 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm

          Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to the deficit problem: Allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. Presto, just like magic, the deficit disappears.

          Or we can go on pretending that children riding their bikes to school are driving this nation to ruin.

          Recommended Thumb up 4

  • LL February 3, 2012 at 6:20 am

    Unfortunately, this woman is my representative. It’s really too bad because Clark County has one of the higher rates of obesity in the state of Washington. I agree with what one poster said about peoples’ attitudes here: I’ll drive my obese kid in my oversized Suburban to school. Ms. Herrerra would rather fight about that sh*tty bridge, which for the record, I don’t really support.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Dan Kaufman February 3, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I have always been a big supporter of the Honorable Rep. DeFazio – but I just don’t understand how he can battle in favor of active transportation one day and then for the CRC boondoggle the next http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/02/columbia_river_crossing_projec.html

    - Yes I realize he is talking procedure here, but he wouldn’t bother if he just wanted to see this ridiculous project die.

    We could do so much more for active transportation if we had those billions to spend. We could start with an interstate bikeway system on par with our Freeway system. Or, god forbid, we could just save the money and the pollution. Seeing that we are going to run a trillion dollar debt and our environment is in peril that might be the most prudent thing to do.

    Promoting the CRC Freeway Project is just Fossil Foolishness.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bob February 3, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is aligned with the Tea Party. The Tea Party is primarily retirees or near retiring. Their philosophy is that they are entitled to Social Security, Medicare and support unlimited defense spending. However they do not want to pay taxes and want a balanced budget. (How does that math work?) Further they have no concern for the future, kids, education, research, foreign aid, economic competitiveness and non-fossil energy (they won’t be around to worry about any of those). Therefore it is unsurprising that the Representative opposes bike and transit funding, including Safe Routes to Schools. She is also leading the charge against light rail to Vancouver. Wait until she discovers there is a bikeway planned for the CRC.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

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