“Before we draft any legislation these meetings will provide the Committee with valuable insight and information.”
— Rep. John Mica, Chair, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — a key body that sets the transportation agenda on Capitol Hill — has announced a series of “field hearings” on changes that could be in store for America’s surface transportation legislation. The closest location to Portland on the list is Vancouver, Washington. A field hearing has been scheduled to happen in Vancouver on February 21st.
The hearings were announced yesterday by Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who is now chair of the House T & I Committee after elections in November ousted former chair James Oberstar. According to the official announcement from the Committee, the public hearing events will “help inform the Committee’s drafting of a long-term reauthorization of the nation’s highway, transit, and highway safety programs.”
This hearing will be a golden opportunity for our region to weigh in on national transportation priorities.
In a statement, Rep. Mica added this,
“The best ideas to improve and streamline government programs often come from outside of Washington, and before we draft any legislation these meetings will provide the Committee with valuable insight and information.”
Because this committee is now controlled by Republicans, the field hearings are being held in districts its Republican members represent. Vancouver is home to House T & I Committee member, Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler.
With Oberstar no longer chairman, it’s likely we can no longer count on this powerful committee to take bicycles seriously. Judging from the tone from Republicans so far, if bikeways are to be considered for significant federal investment, Rep. Mica and other committee members will need to hear loud and clear support for them.
Final details of the event (time and place) have yet to be determined, but Herrera’s office confirmed the 2/21 date today. I’ll update this story and will share final details via Twitter once they’re announced. For more on the national transportation landscape, follow Streetsblog Capitol Hill.