That Washington

Reichert Votes Against Transit

By Erica C. Barnett February 3, 2012

The house transportation committee today approved a house transportation bill that transportation secretary Ray LaHood called “the most partisan” and “the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen during 35 years of public service.”

In a related vote, US Rep. Dave Reichert voted along with most Republicans on the house ways and means committee to adopt a proposal that would eliminate guaranteed federal funding for transit, by moving transit funding from the transportation budget to the general fund. The change would effectively require transit agencies to come to Congress every year, hat in hand, to ask for renewal of their funding.

Reichert has gained a reputation as a moderate Republican---and the support of groups like the League of Conservation Voters--- based in part on the fact that he frequently votes in favor of environmental legislation. However, Reichert tarnished that reputation when he was caught on tape saying he voted with environmentalists as a ploy to neutralize them at election time. And, as I noted back in 2008, Reichert has a history of  backing Republican amendments to water down environmental legislation, and then turning around and voting for the final bill to help preserve his image as a moderate on environmental issues.

The larger transportation funding bill, which passed mostly on party lines after Democrats offered a barrage of amendments to offset some of its more odious aspects, will, if it ultimately passes, completely eliminate Safe Routes to School (a children's safety program); cut all federal funding for bike routes and sidewalks; eliminate the requirement that new bridges be safe for cyclists; and eliminate guaranteed federal funding for public transit, among other things. The bill keeps funding for highways at current levels.

Reichert's office didn't call us back for comment.

Three Republican reps, from Wisconsin, Utah, and Texas, broke ranks on the transportation funding bill. The two Washington reps on the transportation committee, Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3, WA) and Rick Larsen (D-2, WA) voted with their parties (Herrera Beutler for, Larsen against. In the ways and means committee, two Republicans broke ranks to vote against ending guaranteed federal transit funding---one from Florida, one from Minnesota.
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