From the office of Rep. Robert Dold (Ill., 10th District)…
Chicago, IL – On Tuesday, United States Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL-10), Judy Biggert (R-IL-13), and Dan Lipinski (D-IL-3), CTA President Forrest Claypool, RTA Chairman John Gates, Jr., Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross, and Metra Chairman Larry Huggins discussed amendments that need to be made in order to improve the United States House of Representatives Transportation Bill.
“Transportation funding isn’t a Republican or Democrat priority, it is an American priority,” said Dold. “Today, we are united and have come together to advocate on behalf of common sense, bipartisan amendments that will improve the House transportation bill. Our economy relies on the ability to efficiently move goods, services and all the hardworking people who are traveling to and from work, we must ensure that we are improving our roads and funding mass transit. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House to move these measures forward and thank Representatives Biggert and Lipinski for their hard work and efforts to protect mass transit.”
“Suburban commuters and motorists, who pay millions in federal fuel taxes, deserve a transportation bill that is responsive to their needs,” said Biggert. “Getting to work every morning- whether it’s on Metra, the Eisenhower, or the Stevenson, causes enough headaches as it is. We need to work together toward a bipartisan agreement that provides steady, reliable funding so Illinois transportation managers can make the long-term investments that will keep people and commerce moving.”
“As northeastern Illinois’ most senior member of the House Transportation Committee, I have been fighting for more than five years to pass a robust surface transportation bill that is good for our region and good for the country,” Lipinski said. “Improving our transportation system should be a nonpartisan effort. Fortunately, last week we were able to delay consideration of the House majority’s partisan bill that would be harmful to our region; now we have time to fix it. In my work on the Transportation Committee and locally I have always worked to bring people together to solve problems; so I am very happy to stand together with two of my Republican colleagues to fight for changes that will make the transportation bill work for the people of northeastern Illinois. Restoring the 30-year bipartisan agreement to dedicate funding to mass transit, providing a fair tax benefit for transit riders, restoring the CTA’a eligibility for a critical bus program, and funding the Projects of National Significance program — the source of $100 million I secured for CREATE in the last transportation bill — are all critical changes I will continue to fight for and we stand united for.”
“As the Chairman of the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority, I echo everyone’s comments here regarding the House Transportation Bill,” said Gates. “But I also want to add that as the head of an agency that is responsible for fiscal and budget oversight, as well as, raising money to pay for public transit projects in Northeastern Illinois, the House transportation bill is particularly concerning because it will make it much more expensive for the RTA to borrow money. So we need to amend this bill to ensure that there’s a dedicated source of funding for mass transit. But we also need to ensure the amended bill provides for an increase the pre-tax transit benefit to ensure that transit riders receive the same pre-tax benefits as those individuals that drive to work and pay for parking. I look forward to working with Congressmen Dold and Lipinski and Congresswoman Biggert and the rest of the Illinois Congressional delegation to amend the House Bill and to pass a transportation bill that truly works for the people of Illinois.”
Reps. Dold, Biggert, and Lipinski spoke about the importance of improving the House transportation bill by supporting amendments that would include projects of national significance, guarantee funding streams for public transportation, and Representative Hultgren’s amendment to restore transit benefits.
Hultgren-Lipinski-Biggert-Dold Amendment Number 21 – Would restore parity between transit and parking pre-tax benefits and account for inflation.
Nadler-Lipinski-Dold Amendment Number 27 – Would restore the dedicated guaranteed funding stream for public transportation programs. Would eliminate the Alternative Transportation Account, restore the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and its 2.86 cent funding mechanism, and redirect the $40 billion appropriation in HR 7 to the Highway Trust Fund to ensure there is enough funding for both highways and transit. It would also move CMAQ, Ferries, Puerto Rico and Territorial Highways, and Research back into the Highway Trust Fund consistent with current law.
Nadler-Lipinski Amendment Number 28 – Would restore the Projects of National and Regional Significance program as a competitive merit-based grant program as it was originally established in SAFETEA-LU, which has been eliminated in HR 7.