U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is one of five Democrats in the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that have introduced a new bill that looks to integrate housing, transportation, and environmental policies.
Dubbed the Livable Communities Act, a statement about the legislation says that it is intended to “Help towns and regions across the country plan and implement development projects that integrate their community’s needs for transportation, housing, land use, and economic development.”
In his first year on Capitol Hill, Merkley (a former Oregon State Senator) is shaping up to be a champion of sustainable transportation in the Senate. Some say he could be an important complementary ally to more well-known boosters on the House side like Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and Jim Oberstar.
Last month, Merkley joined Metro president David Bragdon and others to testify about Portland’s regional trail system in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Merkley also showed up in support of Metro’s Intertwine effort in Northwest Portland back in July.
About the Livable Communities Act, Merkley issued a statement saying:
“Building communities where Americans have better access to public transportation and affordable housing benefits working families, businesses and our environment… When you develop communities with sustainable principles in mind, even everyday tasks like a trip to the grocery store become more convenient.”
Included in The Livable Communities Act are planning grants that can be used to create and implement land-use plans and a new federal Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities to oversee them.