White House Declines to Pressure Congress on Public Transit Funding
You’d think that, granted the bully pulpit, the Obama administration’s secretary of transportation might actually use it when approached by Congress for advice on public transit funding.
But you’d be wrong.
Asked yesterday by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) if the House-passed climate change bill contains enough funding for public transit, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood appeared to have no opinion whatsoever. “We’ll be happy to consult with you on this,” LaHood told lawmakers on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “As soon as you know what direction you want to take we’ll be there with whatever technical assistance we can provide to ya.”
It’s a curious response, if only because LaHood’s opening statement was a five-minute plea for a greater emphasis on public transit as a key component of tackling climate change. Sure, Congress will have the final say on the bill, but that wasn’t what Carper was asking. He was asking for guidance so that lawmakers would know what direction they want to take. Instead, LaHood punted, applying no pressure on the lawmakers drafting the bill.
Carper, it turns out, had good reason for choosing his question: He’s the lead sponsor of a bill that would dedicate 10 percent of cap-and-trade allowances to fund public transportation, bike paths and other green-travel initiatives. By contrast, the climate change bill that passed the House last month includes only 1 percent for public transit.
The Senate’s climate change proposal is expected for release in September.