The following is the Community Transportation Association's
statement on recent actions in the U.S. Senate:
Monday night (Feb. 2), the U.S. Senate acted to keep its
reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st
Century (TEA-21) on track for completion later this month.
The Senate Banking Committee is now slated to take up its
portion of the reauthorization bill – the Safe Transportation
Equity Act of 2003 – later this week. We commend the
Senate for its commitment to the millions of Americans who
rely on public and community transportation every day and
we urge them to move forward and invest in transportation
A new transportation reauthorization bill will bring needed
jobs, economic growth and mobility choices to communities
of all sizes throughout the nation. We must build on the excellent
foundation of TEA-21 and its predecessor, ISTEA. The time
is now to invest in transportation once again.
As Sen. James Inhofe said (Monday): "There is nothing
the Senate is going to do which is going to provide more jobs
than will be provided by this bill. That is why it is so important
that we get on with this and get it done in the next 10 days
Throughout this reauthorization process, we've urged those
providing public and community transportation services around
the country to "run on their record" of service.
The action of the Senate proved this vital. For in the end,
it's not the letter-writing or the phone calls – although
these are important – that have carried our message.
It's really the work that goes on moving Americans every
day across this nation – it's really your work. Everything
we have asked you to do to help with this process –
to serve more people, to be innovative and to maintain efficient,
cost-effective services – has played a key part in this
(Monday), senators from every state, who often agree on
little, agreed that your work and the work of all our transportation
partners are critical to America's future. Keep up the good
work and thank you for all of your help.
So, What's Happening?
The Senate Finance Committee has approved the revenue portion
of TEA-21 reauthorization. In the Finance Committee's work,
guaranteed revenues from federal motor fuel taxes and related
funding streams would be used for all but $9.5 billion of
transit spending over the next six years.
The "cloture" vote on the Senate floor was a testament
of support for moving ahead in this reauthorization and ensures
that the Senate will move this bill to a vote, as opposed
to other, more controversial legislation, for which the Senate
could continue to debate into oblivion.
As our statement above indicates, the Senate Banking Committee
was supposed to draft its specific program and funding recommendations
for the transit provisions of TEA-21 reauthorization. Unfortunately,
there has been an incident of the lethal bio-toxin ricin in
Senate Majority Leader Frist's mailroom, which closed all
Senate office buildings at this crucial time for transit reauthorization.
Nonetheless, we are confident that the Banking Committee will
take up its important legislative deliberations as soon as
the committee members are able to reconvene.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee continues
to hope to be able to finalize its version of TEA-21 reauthorization
this month, but an unclear funding scenario may force some
delay in their actions.
Assistant Director, Governmental Affairs and Training
Community Transportation Association of America