Last week, the US House of Representatives took a bold step in passing sweeping legislation that rethinks the US transportation framework towards fixing it first, safety over speed, connecting people to jobs and services, and going a step further towards addressing climate change plus equity and inclusion. All eyes are now on the Senate on how they package their existing subpar work on highways, decent work on passenger rail and safety, the bipartisan infrastructure framework, and the House’s INVEST Act.
The US House of Representatives took up the INVEST Act for floor consideration on June 30th, with major movement on the 149 amendments. Wrapping up amendment considerations by July 1st, the House took a vote on the INVEST Act, with a roll call vote of 221 yeas to 201 nays (with 8 not voting). With the bill’s passage, the House made a clear declaration towards fundamentally recalibrating America’s transportation program to work for the people and for the future.
We congratulate the House for passing the INVEST Act, a bill that commits to a fix it first approach, safety over speed and connecting people to jobs and essential services whether they drive or not,” said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America. “Chairman DeFazio’s leadership has resulted in a bill that acknowledges needs—like repair, climate and equity—and seeks to fix past problems while updating the underlying programs to ensure we don’t continue to create them. The bill makes a big commitment to more and better intercity rail, to provide more charging stations and promote vehicle electrification, to establish Complete Streets policies and approaches across the country, and to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure.
Also a special thanks to Rep. Hank Johnson, who led the effort to extend transit into areas with little or no service—transit deserts—and to make it easier to support transit operating expenses. Going forward we hope to work with champions like Rep. Johnson and Rep. Chuy Garcia to strengthen our commitment to transit as we invest in repairing transportation infrastructure and making the transportation system cleaner, more efficient, and more equitable.
Now as the House has taken their bold step towards transportation reauthorization, all eyes are on the Senate. To date, the Senate has released a highways title and a rail and safety title, but has yet to release a transit title. Adding into the reauthorization mix is the bipartisan infrastructure framework negotiated by 21 senators and the White House. What comes next for the Senate regarding transportation reauthorization is anyone’s guess at this point in time, but the clock is ticking towards the expiration of the FAST Act on September 30th, a mere 90 calendar days away.
As the focus turns to the Senate, we remain hopeful that their legislation will include concrete policies that address climate change, safety, maintenance and equity. Merely providing lip service to repair, climate, and equity while still building projects that produce the opposite would be an unjust use of taxpayer dollars, especially in our small towns plus rural and marginalized communities.