Thursday, February 05, 2009

APTA - Senate Continues to Consider the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

From the American Public Transit Association (APTA): "The U.S. Senate today will continue to consider the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Senate version of legislation currently contains $8.4 billion for public transportation through existing formula programs, $5.5 billion for a multi-modal discretionary grant program for states and local governments for highway, transit and other surface transportation projects of national or regional significance, and $2 billion for high speed rail.

Yesterday, an amendment offered by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) to strip several programs from the bill, including the $2 billion for high speed rail and $850 million for Amtrak was defeated by a vote of 65-32. An additional amendment to remove high speed rail funds from the legislation may be offered by Senator Kit Bond (R-MO). No other additional amendments relevant to transportation and infrastructure were considered. However, several significant amendments remain pending and others are expected to be offered as the Senate proceeds with its consideration of the bill.

There are a number of amendments that may be offered on the Senate floor that could add additional funding for public transportation, including:

* An amendment sponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) that would add $25 billion for infrastructure, including $5 billion for transit. (This amendment, which would add funds for the New Starts and Fixed Guideway Modernization programs, was set aside after it failed on a procedural vote, but the amendment sponsors may to attempt to revive it.)

* An amendment sponsored by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) which would add $6.5 billion for transit, and allow a portion of the funds to be used to cover operating expenses; and

* An amendment sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) that would redirect stimulus funds not obligated within one year of passage to highway, transit and water resources projects.

In addition, APTA continues to track an amendment expected to be offered by Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) that would eliminate the multi-modal discretionary grant program described above and transfer the funds to the Federal Highway Program to be distributed under the federal Surface Transportation Program (STP). The intermodal program as currently drafted would make funding available for the New Starts, fixed-guideway rail modernization programs, as well as passenger and freight rail projects not otherwise eligible under the bill.

Action Alert

Contact your Senators immediately and urge them to:

* Support amendments to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that increase funding for public transportation;

* Oppose amendments that would eliminate funding for passenger and high-speed rail initiatives;

* Oppose the Bond amendment to eliminate the $5.5 billion multi-modal discretionary program and transfer the funding to the Federal Highway Administration's Surface Transportation Program."

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association recommends you

Contact Your Senators by Clicking Here.

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