Senate improves their bill with three key amendments, but crucial vote looms

By Stephen Lee Davis, Transportation for America, March 05, 2012

Senator Boxer meets with transportation advocates in her office

Senator Boxer, one of the four main architects of the Senate’s
bipartisan transportation bill, meets with Los Angeles County
Supervisor Don Knabe and Los Angeles MTA Executive
Director Art Leahy to discuss transportation issues.

In case you missed the news Friday, thanks in part to the drumbeat of tweets and messages and letters and phone calls from many of you, the Senate made some important changes last week to strengthen their two-year transportation bill.

But with a March 31 deadline still looming for shutdown of all transportation programs without a new bill and a crucial vote scheduled for tomorrow (3/6) at noon, your Senators need to hear that they must move this bill without delay.

Help keep the pressure on and take a moment to urge your Senator to support moving the bill and get it one step closer to passage.

We celebrated a big victory late last week as the Senate agreed to include three amendments we have all been working for, including the Cardin-Cochran amendment to give local governments a say over small projects in their communities — projects that make bicycling and walking safer and more attractive, revitalize our Main Streets, or make better connections to transit, among many other uses.

A “cloture” vote to end this phase of debate and move the bill to the Senate floor is scheduled for noon on Tuesday, 3/6. While this vote won’t be the last word, it is key toward solidifying the Senate’s progress and a failed cloture vote could stall the bill significantly.

Last week we learned just how effective our 500-plus coalition members and the thousands of you have been with your advocacy, specifically on the Cardin-Cochran local control amendment that was incorporated into the bill last week.

“Oh, we’ve been hearing about that Cardin-Cochran amendment,” we heard repeatedly, as we visited numerous Senate offices last week with 30-plus T4 America coalition members who flew to D.C. from all over the country to lobby their members of Congress on the transportation bill. Staffers in numerous Senate offices said they’d been getting phone calls and emails about that amendment specifically for the last few weeks.

While we are certainly still working for several more improvements to the bill, it’s time to move it one step closer to winning passage. We need to make sure that the Senate moves this bill forward without delay. The cloture vote expected Tuesday would help to make this much-improved bill the starting point for further debate as it moves toward a final vote.

Our Senators need to hear from their constituents that we can’t wait to pass a bill that will improve mobility and travel options for all Americans while preserving our existing infrastructure. We need to keep this Senate bill moving forward.

Send a message to your Senator anytime before noon on Tuesday with this page.

And after you send that email, come right back and make a quick phone call and tell them to support the Senate transportation bill on the floor Tuesday. Keep the pressure on!

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