Important Change to House Rules (Fed)

(Just to keep you updated on what's happening on the Fed level.)

At the start of every new Congress, members of the House sit down and look at their rules. This time they made several changes that effect transportation funding. Generally speaking, federal programs go through two committees: one that determines policy and the other that determines funding levels. But, for the past decade, transportation funding has been different than any other federal program. Since 1998, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has determined both the policy and funding levels. Now, under the new rules, transportation will have to go through the appropriations like all other federal programs. That makes things a little more difficult for advocates.

Another unique aspect of transportation funding was the certainty provided by SAFETEA-LU — the federal transportation bill passed in 2005. It set levels of funding through 2009, specifying how much would be spent on each program. But, the latest extension of SAFETEA-LU expires on March 4. Congress will have to determine new funding levels for transportation and, because of the rule change, it will be appropriations, instead of T&I, leading that decision. The unfortunate reality is the committee will be looking to make dramatic cuts.

Maintaining funding at the 2009 level is a tough sell, because that would put the Highway Trust Fund into deficit spending. Members of Congress clearly aren’t keen on that idea. To only spend what’s in the Trust Fund, though, would mean as much as a 30 percent cut across the board — a drastic, and thus unlikely, scenario. But, it’s possible programs that fund biking and walking — Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes To School — could come under attack, and even be zeroed out.

So the grassroots ground game in the coming weeks will be critical. We need to show members of Congress that biking and walking programs are popular and cost-effective. Just as important, we need to show elected officials that it’s not worth disappointing thousands of voters to save such a small amount of money in the grand scheme of a large deficit. The stronger our showing now, the less likely our programs will come under attack again. So get ready: The very strong likelihood is that a House vote will happen the week of February 28th.
From the Alliance for Biking and Walking <a href=""></a>;

by B' Spokes

Like most people I live a hectic life and who has the time for much exercise? Thanks to xtracycle now I do. By using my bike for daily activities I can get things done and get an hour plus work out in 15 minutes extra of my time, not a bad deal and beats taking the extra time going to the gym. In case you are still having trouble being motivated; the National Center of Disease Control says that inactivity is the #2 killer in the United States just behind smoking. ( ) Get out there and start living life! I can carry home a full shopping cart of groceries, car pool two kids or just get lost in the great outdoors camping for a week. Well I got go, another outing this weekend.
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