It’s commonly understood that the GOP typically supports bills that benefit big business, namely Big Oil and coal providers. A recent decision by House Republicans seems no different, but is still disheartening all the same.
From the Huffington Post:
Two House committees voted on Thursday and Friday to eliminate federal funding for a program that creates bicycle and pedestrian paths for children going to school and to cut off mass transit from its major source of federal funding, the gas tax.
The House’s actions, propelled by GOP leadership, could politicize the previously staid issue of infrastructure investment and put Congress’ chances of passing a new surface transportation bill this year in jeopardy. House Republican leadership has touted its transportation bill as an important step in job creation.
“The leadership of the House is looking to support highways. It seems that they’re not wanting to support bicycle, pedestrian or transit use,” said Deb Hubsmith, director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The decision was particularly disappointing, she said, because “one of the biggest problems facing America right now is childhood obesity.”
The Safe Routes to School program cost about $202 million in its most recent year — a drop in the bucket compared to the roughly $40 billion a year the federal government spent on highways.
Naturally, it’s not just Democrats who are upset:
It wasn’t just Democrats who were disappointed with the vote over mass transit. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), whose members build interstates but also oversee transit systems, expressed its opposition, as did the Amalgamated Transit Union, the AFL-CIO, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“Think about it in the major metropolitan areas,” said Jack Basso, AASHTO’s chief operating officer. “The highway system in many of those areas doesn’t have a potential for much expansion, so the alternative is to make sure we have a vigorous transportation system that helps to mitigate that congestion.”
Everyone in our wonderful city, Los Angeles, know that traffic is a complete nightmare. The last thing we need, even in an economic slump, is to decrease funding for safe, alternative forms of transportation. We can only hope that both federal and state governments get with the program and follow Western Europe, implementing large-scale alternative transit programs. The Dutch look pretty happy, don’t they?