The INVEST Act, which hits all three of Transportation for America’s three principles, is being considered this week on the House floor ahead of a final vote. There are a few key amendments being offered that could jeopardize these improvements, or further improve the already strong bill in support of our principles.
The House will begin voting on amendments to the INVEST Act on the House floor Wednesday, June 30 (today) and Thursday, July 1. We expect the final vote on the INVEST Act sometime on Thursday, July 1. You can likely stay tuned on our Twitter feed for more up-to-date information.
We heartily support the INVEST Act and encourage all representatives to vote for its passage, but well over 250 amendments were submitted to the INVEST Act to be considered before that final vote. We will be tracking the most notable amendments in a table below, but we want to draw your attention specifically to the seven amendments we will be paying careful attention to.
Transportation for America strongly supports five amendments to be included in the final bill:
- Amendment #15 (Moulton): this amendment increases the PRIME passenger rail program funding by $5 billion total, to modernize and develop passenger rail service (especially critical and affordable interstate travel options) while also expanding existing rail corridors throughout the country.
- Amendment #86 (Garcia (IL)): This amendment ensures that the street design manual used by all traffic engineers (the MUTCD) equitably accounts for all transportation users, especially cyclists and pedestrians. It furthermore directs the Secretary to update guidance on updating the MUTCD, targeting a four-year update cycle to ensure it stays current with evolving transportation needs.
The three following amendments from Rep. Hank Johnson would make changes to new and existing programs in the INVEST Act to help transit agencies run more buses and trains to serve more people. Rep. Johnson was proposing an amendment that would have created an entirely new program to fund transit operations, but it became clear that leadership is not allowing amendments to create entirely new programs at this point for the INVEST Act.
- Amendment #133 (Johnson (GA)): This amendment increases the eligible funding for transit operating expenses from the Carbon Pollution Reduction Program up to 20 percent, allowing states to use these funds to make transit service more frequent and reliable—which has a notable impact on carbon reduction.
- Amendment #139 (Johnson (GA)): This amendment prioritizes transit operations expenses in the Reducing Transit Deserts grant program by removing construction of maintenance facilities as an eligible expense. Maintenance facilities projects could swamp this small program and are eligible for funding elsewhere, while transit operations are harder to fund.
- Amendment #148 (Johnson (GA)): This amendment makes expanding transit service hours and/or days an eligible expense for the Reducing Transit Deserts grant program. The underlying program only focuses on improving frequencies, but extending service hours is just as important for reaching more riders who need transit the most.
Transportation for America also strongly opposes two amendments and urges all reps to vote against these short-sighted proposals:
- Amendment #144 (Perry (PA)): This amendment prohibits the use of funds to expand the Amtrak passenger rail network. At a time when communities across the country are clamoring for more connections and more options of all kinds—especially in places not well connected to airports or other interstates—this amendment is especially out of touch with the needs of Americans, both urban and rural alike.
- Amendment #247 (Gibbs (OH)): This amendment allows state DOTs—such as the Ohio DOT in Rep. Gibbs’ home state, which spends next to nothing on transit service statewide—to seize transit funding and spend that money on highways, overriding local control and eliminating funds from documented local multimodal needs. It also prohibits using transit funds for art, non-functional landscaping, and sculptures—or for paying the cost of including an artist on the design team. This might seem pennywise but it’s incredibly pound foolish. Allowing a small amount of transit funding to support artists’ involvement leads to projects that are more responsive to their surrounding communities’ needs, better incorporate the desires of riders, and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Additionally, these funds support local artists’ small businesses, further benefiting the communities adjacent to transit projects.
Take action and tell your Member of Congress to support the INVEST Act and amendments #15, #86, #133, #139, and #148 and oppose amendments #144 and #247 as they come to the House floor.