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.”