Release: GOP Should Drop ‘Worst Transportation Bill Ever,’ Urge SEEC Members

Feb 16, 2012 Issues: Energy, Environment

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) called on House Leadership to stop consideration of H.R. 7, the “worst transportation bill ever.” The bill would kill jobs, undermine safety, eliminate important funding for public transit and other transportation options, and destroy environmental protections. The House GOP bill is the first transportation bill in recent history to have been developed without bipartisan support, and now faces a delay on the House floor due to an apparent lack of Republican support. Bipartisan legislation has begun to proceed in the Senate, and House Democrats are urging their chamber’s leadership to engage in a similar effort that would result in real transportation reform.

H.R. 7 is opposed by SEEC and other House Democrats because it makes drastic cuts and radical changes to long-standing federal programs supporting the nation’s transportation system and important sectors of the economy. The bill also seeks to allow oil companies to drill in ecologically sensitive lands and coastlines, and would force approval of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline without adequate review. The House GOP has high-jacked what has traditionally been a bipartisan process for investing in our nation’s infrastructure to instead advance a special interest agenda.

“This bill is so bad that the Republicans wouldn’t even hold hearings on it,” said SEEC member Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). “It jeopardizes thirty years of public transit investment, reduces Americans’ commuting options at a time when gas prices are about to skyrocket, and restricts communities’ right to have a say in the transportation projects that happen in their neighborhoods. I am appalled that an issue that directly impacts the lives of so many Americans has turned into a giveaway to America’s oil companies.”

“H.R. 7 abandons years of good-faith efforts by members of both parties to thoughtfully and responsibly craft a bipartisan transportation bill that reflects the priorities and vital importance of infrastructure investments across the country,” said SEEC member Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA). “It slashes investments in federal highways and transit and would result in 550,000 job losses.  We should be focused on creating good jobs in manufacturing and construction – two sectors hardest hit with job losses – not kicking them while they’re already down.”

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress should be working together to invest in our highways and mass transit systems in a fiscally responsible way that creates jobs while providing the infrastructure necessary for economic growth for years to come,” said SEEC Vice Chair Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). “Rather than working cooperatively, the House majority brought forward a partisan bill that ignores our crumbling infrastructure and reads like a wish list for big oil companies.”

“This so-called transportation bill eliminates all dedicated transit funding, cuts existing federal highway funding for 45 of the 50 states, and eliminates public input for large transportation projects.  The reduction in highway funding will only exacerbate existing problems we face with our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and threaten our continued economic competitiveness.  The substantial cuts in transit funding will put more Americans back in their cars at a time when our nation is trying to reduce our reliance on foreign oil,” said SEEC Vice Chair Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA).

"Republicans should withdraw this partisan job killing bill and work with us to solve America's transportation needs," said SEEC member Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

“Transportation investments drive growth and create jobs – we need to adequately fund transportation in order to compete in the 21st-Century global economy,” said SEEC member Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO). “Instead of playing election-year politics with economic policy, we should pull together for the good of the country and work on bipartisan legislation.”

As debate on the bill began Wednesday, Rep. McGovern sought to offer his amendment (similar to an amendment offered in the Rules Committee by Reps. Blumenauer, Welch, Bill Keating (D-MA), and Ed Markey (D-MA)) to end tax subsidies for large oil companies, but was voted down by House Republicans who have voted consistently during the 112th Congress to continue subsidizing Big Oil.