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Senate amendment would strip bike funding from stimulus bill; Blumenauer responds

Posted by on February 6th, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Senator Jim DeMint

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) introduced an amendment last night that would prohibit funding of “bicycle routes” and paths from the economic stimulus package that’s working its way through Capitol Hill right now.

According to staffers in Representative Earl Blumenauer’s office who are following the bill closely, Sen. DeMint’s amendment was supported in a speech by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)

DeMint is chair of the Senate Steering Committee. On Tuesday, he told Newsmax.com:

“When people see bike trails and hiking trails and golf courses, they know this is not designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs. It’s just basically special-interest pork barrel spending.”

Here is the amendment:

And the text reads:

Prohibition on use of funds for trails and off-road vehicle routes. None of the funds made available under this Act shall be used for bicycle, walking, or wildnerness trails, or off-road vehicle routes.

And Blumenauer, like he has done many times in the past, has issued a response (emphasis mine):

“Republican amendments and assertions that the creation of hike and bike trails in the recovery plan will not create jobs or stimulate the economy shows us just short-sighted and out of touch they are.

Investment in bike paths will not only improve our economy, and take our country in the right direction for our future; it is precisely the kind of investment the American people want. American families have indicated time and again in the passage of bond measures across the country that they favor spending on alternative transportation, such as bicycles and mass transit, over spending on more highway capacity.

Americans want a real solution to the economic crisis, not just a band-aid fix. These investments will stimulate the economy in the present and point our nation toward the economic and environmental realities of the future.”

We’ll keep you posted on the status of this amendment.

UPDATE: The League of American Bicyclists has addressed the DeMint statement and amendment in their “Trash Talk” section.

UPDATE 2/9: According to Blumenauer’s office, this amendment did not make it into the final bill. Blumenuaer staffer Tyler Frisbee wrote to me this morning: “Expect to see more bills/language like this, which means that the bike community is going to have to work to make their voice heard and protect their interests.”

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bikieboy
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bikieboy

way to go, Earl – I feel your exhaustion at having to continually respond to these ideologically bankrupt pinheads.

Hollie
Guest
Hollie

I don’t know anything about him, but I feel I can say unequivocally that I hate that guy.

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

DeMINT is an idiot but totally represents the present day republican party. The people who drove us into the ditch now seem to have all the answers on what we should be doing. They aren’t only anti-bike, they are just anti-anything which might get us out of this mess. OBAMA needs to quit with the bipartisanship,, tell these guys to shove it and do what needs to be done.

Hollie
Guest
Hollie

Seriously, reading that amendment makes me so angry that the torrent of pissed off rebuttal is getting caught in my throat due to its sheer volume.

I need to go outside and walk around to calm down.

Zaphod
Guest

While not in the text of the amendment, his quote lumping “Golf Courses” with bicycle routes is a disingenuous way to paint something purely recreational (and by implication optional) with something very functional and valuable with the same brush. This deliberate and calculated misrepresentation is straight out of the Rove handbook.

BenjaminV
Guest

So pitiful. It’s as if Republicans are socially 20 years behind the curve. Their sights are so narrow, so traditional, and so….LAME!

I really think places like Portland need to speak up, and show the rest of the country how transportation planning can work, can be a role model for the nation, and the world.

Earl will have a tough time not conceding to these Rush Limbaugh-indebted morons who are using Politicking at a time of national crisis.

trackback

[…] Bike Portland has the scoop on Senator Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) amendment to prohibit funding for “bicycle routes” in the stimulus bill: “When people see bike trails and hiking trails and golf courses, they know this is not designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs. It’s just basically special-interest pork barrel spending.” […]

robert
Guest
robert

Hold on!

Its not just republicans. Our Senator Claire McCaskill a democrat who has Obama’s ear has also came out against bike/ped projects in the stimulus bill. You can read about it here if you like……..

http://mobikefed.org/2009/01/30-jan-2009-ask-senator-mccaskill-to.php

Spencer Boomhower
Guest
Spencer Boomhower

Well obviously, the creation of bike, walking and recreational trails *can* create jobs. If it takes work to do it, and someone will accept money to do the work, then bingo, job created.

However, I’m guessing that, because they lumped bike trails in with golf courses and wilderness trails, they’re also making the assumption that bike trails have no use in the context of transportation infrastructure.

In response to that assumption, I’d love to show Senator DeMint an average morning on the Eastside Esplanade, or the Hawthorne bridge, with the throngs of commuters purposely pedaling to their jobs downtown and elsewhere.

But I doubt that would do much good either, because I doubt his position is the result of a sincere incomprehension of how practical cycling is as a means of transportation. Rather, I’m guessing this is just political gamesmanship, and he’s setting himself up as a champion to his constituants, indulging their cartoonish image of cyclists-as-bad-guys: treehugging liberal elitist blah-dee blah-dee blah. Because there’s nothing like a good bad guy to galvenize political support.

The upside of this kind of idiocy is that it just as effectively galvenizes *his* opponents.

Pete
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Pete

…yet on his website he accuses Democrats of “discriminating against students of faith” by voting against use of public education funds for buildings designated as religious meeting places. Pork is as pork does.

K'Tesh
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K'Tesh

Why is it that the GOP is the ones that always seem to be Jackasses?

I’ve joined the facebook group:

I bet I can find 1 million families who want big beautiful bike paths.

Spencer Boomhower
Guest
Spencer Boomhower

Of course I wrote all that before reading robert’s post where McCaskill is doing the same thing. Dang, that’s irritating. All the more so because I think I might have given money to her campaign via the DailyKos donation tool during the election.

I wasn’t able to find much more on her position on the matter, so if anyone can provide links that would be great.

trackback

[…] BikePortland.org: Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) introduced an amendment last night that would prohibit funding of […]

robert
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robert

There are many democrats who feel the same way.

You dont even hear the President talking about bicycling, do you?

They are politicians first and no matter how passionate we are on the subject it takes some real courage to say, “we are going to start to invest in bicycle facilities at the expense of an ever increasing automobile budget.” That would be political suicide and 99% of americans would think you were crazy.

This is one of the thing that bothers me about Blumenauer. He is *very* political. At the national bike summit last year all he did was rip republicans for 15 minutes during his speech. It would be nice to have some objectivity on both sides.

Mark C
Guest
Mark C

McCaskill is basically a DINO (Democrat In Name Only), as that’s the only reason Missouri elected a Democrat. Face it, outside of Portland and a few other cities, it’s all about the single-occupancy vehicle in the good old US of A. One of these days maybe I’ll just throw in the towel and move to Europe.

Steve Brown
Guest

Here is the deal. Send the whack job an e-mail telling him you will contribute to whoever runs against him. Urge riders in other states to do the same. Then do it.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

The entire bill is too much pork in too many places.

Government job creation is a joke. Roosevelt didn’t end the depression with job creation, WWII did.

robert
Guest
robert

Claire is definitely a liberal by all the classic definitions.

Gun control
socialized medicine

etc. etc.

I realize that this might be the first that some of you have considered that many, many democrats are not exactly bicycle advocates but come on……

There are also many republicans who totally get it. Senator Bond was one of the reasons why Columbia missouri received 22 million dollars for their bicycle network in 2005. He has also said, “no biking/walking” in this stimulus bill but my point is the same.
Active transportation is not a one party issue.

JohnO
Guest

There’s got to be a political action going against this somewhere? (League of American Cyclists?)

Any chance someone could dredge up that link so we can voice our dissent to the clueless lawmakers directly?

Spencer Boomhower
Guest
Spencer Boomhower

I think much of getting things done in politics comes down to what FDR once said activists in his own party: “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”

It applies to your political opponents as well as your allies.

JohnO
Guest

I just e-mailed DeMint and Coburn, saying funding bike paths

… creates jobs. It makes communities more livable by encouraging families to use them. It fights obesity, a US public health epidemic. It encourages bike commuting, which also reduces obesity, as well as air pollution, traffic, and dependence on foreign oil.

THIS IS NOT PORK!! It’s better urban planning.

Vote for it.

I’m still pissed, but at least I’ve done something.

Kevin H
Guest
Kevin H

I thought that I’d share the email I just sent Senator DeMint. I plan on sending a similar one to Senator McCaskill.

Senator DeMint,

I was just alerted to the language of the amendment to the stimulus package that you introduced yesterday evening. I agree that the stimulus package contains spending that is not in the interest of either stimulating the economy or providing jobs. However, I am deeply worried about your apparent stance that bicycling is a recreational activity.

I have been commuting by bicycle for almost 15 years. My bicycling is not recreation. My bicycling is my livelihood. Without bicycle lanes and paths, I would not be able to safely get to work each day. My taxes pay for car roads, please let them pay for bike roads.

Your bill is deeply flawed in that it doesn’t recognize the number of people who walk and ride their bicycles to work each and every day. I agree that stimulus funds should not be used for recreational trails and off-road trails. However, without that distinction, you are harming hard working Americans who depend on the walking and bicycling to contribute to making it through these tough times.

Please reconsider the language you are using for this amendment.

Thank you,
Kevin Hedahl
Concerned veteran and citizen

BenjaminV
Guest

I think that some history reviewing is okay, but we also need to realize that new approaches need to be taken, and forward-thinking policies put into place. This is an EXCITING time to be a politician, as there is potential to enact smart new laws and build 21st century infrastructure.

Job creation needs to be coupled with a vision for how we use our resources in the next 5, 10, 20, 30 years. Chances are, renewables will be the NORM, so why don’t we get a huge start on it today? Al Gore’s ambitious 100% plan is not pie-in-the-sky. It is the kind of collective will project that would create millions of jobs, and again make the USA the most envied country on earth.

I know that the stimulus will get watered down, but it’s so tantalizing to imagine exciting, ambitious and ethically brilliant public works projects.

thefuture
Guest
thefuture

too bad these decisions are not being made this summer when gasoline prices shoot higher than last year. our bikes would not look so much like toys to jim and his buddies.

trackback

[…] E-Mail → Coburn’s E-mail → More @ Streetsblog → More @ BikePortland […]

Bjorn
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Bjorn

Link to Michael Ronkin’s letter on Portland Transport about why sidewalks make more sense than roads as a stimulus measure:

http://portlandtransport.com/archives/2009/01/an_open_letter_2.html

roger
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roger

@24 Bingo!

Thanks you Blumenauer!

mmann
Guest

I just emailed both Senators as well.

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

Hey anonymous #17, did Limbaugh tell you that it was wwII that ended the depression? What the hell was wwII except one big mass government spending? Republicans always say that any spending here in this country is pork while we build schools and soccer fields in Iraq! What tax cut every built a road or bike path or any public infrastructure? If the republican tax cuts work so well, why are we in this near depression? DeMINT voted for the ‘BRIDGE TO NOWHERE” and now complains that bicycling infrastructure is wasteful spending.

Matthew Denton
Guest
Matthew Denton

Keep in mind that a “tax cut” is really a loan against future taxes, (we have to pay off the national debt sometime.) Could you get a $500 loan by yourself? 60-75% of the population could. Do you want to go further into debt? Nope, that is why they haven’t done it already. So why should the government to do it for us? I have no idea.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

to those of you writing these senators…I know you feel as though it may help, but it won’t…

why? you’re not part of their constituency…you don’t live in their states….they don’t care because there is no way you can vote them out of office. their job is not to answer to people outside of the state they represent..

email Blumenauer and whatever bike based PAC you can think of and demand they get after it…

#17…if you believe government does not create jobs, you’re extremely misinformed. government (fed, state, and local)funded positions actually represent %16+ of all salaried positions in this country. you do the math…if you’re able.

robert
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robert

I say email them. They dont read them anyway so they will not know where you live. Its only sheer numbers that will shock them into thinking twice about it.

trackback

[…] They crew over at Greater City: Providence pointed me towards an article at BikePortland.org. […]

DE
Guest
DE

Ditto 31

I used to work in a congressional office. All the emails & letters you send to out of state senators will be immediately forwarded to your representative/senator by a college intern before any paid staffer even sees it. This is almost always true, even if you wrote them thanking them for their leadership on an issue.

shawn.
Guest
shawn.

“When people see bike trails and hiking trails and golf courses, they know this is not designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs.”

Jeez, this guy’s not going to get any votes from Myrtle Beach area residents with all his anti golf course rhetoric.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Wow. Earl can take action when a bike lane budget is cut, but when an illegal war sucks one trillion dollars he spent years saying it was not strategic to investigate Bush and Cheney.

We are in this economic crisis because Earl was a security guard who looked the other way. It should have been checks and balances, but it became lobbyist checks and allowances. All talk, no action.

young&fast
Guest
young&fast

Its just plain stupid to frame this issue as Dems vs. Reps, in addition to being boring as hell.

Also we could all benefit from a reduction in name calling, ie. reading pollution?

One way to proceed is to be realistic and focused.
1) DeMint is from SC.
2) What connection does cycling have with SC?
3) Bingo! USA Cycling Championships in Greenville, SC
4) Who else is from SC and connected to SC?
5) Bingo! Hincapie
6) Maybe Blumenauer could team up with Greenville officials and Hincapie and articulate what cyclings means now and in the future to help educate DeMint.

Tiresome name calling is a big turn off. Lets articulate economic facts and get on with making bikes a more useful means of everyday transportation.

Paul Tay
Guest

NO problem. America ALREADY has the world’s most ADVANCED bike route system. All we have to do is USE and ABUSE it. The DeMint initiative is legal JUSTIFICATION for Critical Mass.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

Wow. Earl can suddenly act to save a bike lane budget!

I wonder why we are in such an economic crisis?

Duh!

Earl took no effective action in his job as a security guard in our systems of checks and balances. The result is we 1 trillion stolen for an illegal war.

For years Earl said it was not strategic to investigate an illegal president. No wonder we are bankrupt of money, citizenship and leadership. If all the bike lovers and anti-war democratic voters had called their congress people and demanded impeachment we would not be in this emergency.

How many bike portland readers lifted a finger to demand the constitution be upheld by reigning in an illegal president?

Yea, it’s ugly for me to blame my fellow bikers, but these reader comments show me that none of you can connect the dots any better than Earl.

If anyone can argue that my lack of action caused the war to drag on and bankrupt our country, please, bring it on.

Paul Tay
Guest

“How many bike portland readers lifted a finger to demand the constitution be upheld by reigning in an illegal president?”

I did. But, did I “reign” or “rein?”

thefuture
Guest
thefuture

often i take a ride when such an event or story gets to me such as this one. and while on said ride a sort of sobering revelation overcame me. what if jim just sincerely doesn’t get it? i mean he may just not know? jim come to portland. bring your friends. let us show you the way.

Spencer Boomhower
Guest
Spencer Boomhower

@thefuture

I’ll stay cynical about Sen. DeMint for the time being, but I appreciate your optimism. 🙂

I do think that the sight of the morning bike commute over the Hawthorne would be a revelation to the great many in the nation who think of bikes as toys.

It would be a good subject for a video.

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

A news update. The stimulus bill has been agreed on in the senate. I don’t know if money was left in for bicycle infrastructure or not but I doubt it since 100 billion was taken out for the republicans to compromise on (and only 2 or 3 are going to vote for it). Taken out was pork barrel spending like construction for schools! Nice job repubs, hopefully there will be less of you around in future years!

Donna
Guest
Donna

The entire bill is too much pork in too many places.

Government job creation is a joke. Roosevelt didn’t end the depression with job creation, WWII did.

Amen, Anonymous – I am 100% in agreement with you on this subject. I am dead set against this bill in any form. I’d be thrilled to see the thing be voted down, though I know that will never happen. There’s way too much pork in it and way too many congresscritters on both sides of the aisle who are far more interested in getting reelected than in doing what’s responsible.

That said, I certainly do not want to see DeMint get his way on this. I firmly believe that in the coming years we will see more people out there biking for practical transportation purposes. Even if gasoline gets cheap in a deflationary spiral, it’s still pretty dang expensive to own and operate a motor vehicle. I think more American families will realize that reducing their household car ownership to 1 vehicle – or even 0 – will make a huge impact on their financial bottom line. For some, it could very well be the difference between getting by and not. At the very least, owning multiple cars requires throwing a healthy chunk of change down a black hole with no bottom. (Kind of like the bank bailouts, really.)

Now, if there were only a way to ensure that the bozos in some parts of the country would actually use it to create practical bike facilities for necessary transportation. Bike paths and facilities which are designed to primarily serve a recreational function would indeed be a shameful waste of money in our present circumstances.

Then again, most of this stimulus bill is a shameful waste of money in our present circumstances…

robert
Guest
robert

Donna,

I agree with you. This country is headed to bankruptcy and its because people think the government can create jobs by borrowing money.

Its asinine.

That said, its GOING to happen so it might as well be far less highway projects and more things that can insulate us from the coming energy crisis.

Coyote
Guest
Coyote

Earl’s statement is disappointing. What possible good can a statement like that do? Does he think DeMint is going to hear that and reconsider his position?

Perhaps if he did not preface his comment with a pointless partisan attack, more people would listen.

robert
Guest
robert

coyote,

Exactly why I am wondering why Earl is headlining the Bike Summit again this year in D.C.

I heard “republicans are stupid” in about 200 different ways but heard nothing about how we can help bicycling in the United States.

Earl, if by some miracle you are reading this PLEASE stop the partisan bullcrap. No one wants to hear it and you are certainly NOT winning over republicans like that.

Its like trying to get a date to the prom by saying, “you are probably to stupid and slutty to want to go with me but………”

You have just sealed your fate.

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

Donna, “government spending doesn’t create jobs?
Gee, I work at an engineering firm that employs 100 people in pretty well paying jobs that does work on roads and bridges. Who do you think is paying for infrastructure, the private sector? Big business? Who is paying for bike paths, the new sellwood bridge, etc.? Who builds schools? John McCAINS heiress wife?
I wouldn’t want to live in a country run by people who think like you do.

robert
Guest
robert

Old and slow,

I think they mean that borrowing money does not create sustainable jobs.

What this economy needs is a slow and painful correction. People were spending WAY more than they made and it caught up with all of us. Sure the economy was cooking there for a while with people taking out 6 year car loans and maxing out the credit cards but that was not sustainable and now its going to take a while to get back to reality.

Imagine if everyone started bicycle commuting and getting all of that exercise. Doctors would be standing in bread lines and 90% of car dealers would be out of business. Would it temporarily hurt? Yes. Is it a reason to overreact and put the country into bankruptcy based upon fear mongering? No.

After this money is up all of those “new jobs” in construction are going to be over unless we borrow even more money (if anyone will let us) and do it all over again.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Are you quoting me, old&slow? It seems like you think you are, though I apologize if I am mistaken. I’m not sure where I said that in post #44 – the only post I’ve made up until this point.

That said, have you ever heard of someone spending their way out of a problem that was exacerbated by prior overspending? I’ve known people who’ve tried, but the only place it ever got them was bankruptcy court. It’s not pretty when a nation has to default on their debts.

Call me heartless, but I cannot support job creation that will contribute to the eventual insolvency of our federal government and the collapse of our currency. Even more when you consider the U.S. Dollar is the world’s reserve currency and most other currencies would have to fail before ours finally does. It seems to me far more people would be suffering a whole lot more in a country with a collapsed economy and currency – not to mention the rest of the world. I sincerely hope your engineering firm is able to conduct business as usual in such a situation, though I fear most businesses won’t be able to do that.