National Call-In Day: Getting a Better Transportation Law

As a small group of House and Senate leaders hammer out the details of the transportation bill mostly behind closed doors, don’t be a silent partner in this vitally important process. NRDC is joining with organizations across the country by asking supporters to pick up their phones today and flood the Capitol switchboard to let your representative know your concerns—before it is too late.

The wording of the bill will affect everyone and help shape the methods we use to get around daily—whether you drive, bike, take the train or bus. Don’t you want to see a final transportation bill that prioritizes the repair of existing roads and bridges (rather than building costly new ones,) preserves places to bike and walk, supports public transit and commuter rail? How about a bill that keeps pollution out of our air and water?

Tell your senators and representatives that the conference committee negotiating the transportation bill should support the strong, bipartisan provisions contained in the Senate’s transportation bill MAP-21.

Here’s what you can do:

Use this script recommended by Transportation for America, or come up with your own. If you enter your zip code on the site, your congressional representative will come up along with their direct phone numbers.

You can also find out if you have a representative on the committee by looking at the list of House and Senate Conferees. Even if one of your representatives is not on the committee, call them because all 535 members will have to vote on the final bill.

Or, call the Capitol switchboard directly at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative’s office. Leave your message with the person that answers their phone. Offices keep a tally of calls and this information gets back to the decision makers.

Why is the transportation bill so important and how did we get here?

Our current transportation policy expired September 30, 2009, but limps along thanks to nine extensions. On June 30th it is set to expire once again.

The House and Senate passed different versions of a transportation bill in March. The House bill passed 293 to 127 and was loaded with controversial riders including the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, removal of EPA regulation of toxic coal emissions, and environmental streamlining provisions. President Obama threatened to veto the House’s original transportation bill, H.R. 7, because of its inclusion of the Keystone pipeline, and he has renewed the threat for the current piece of legislation.

The Senate overcame partisanship and passed a bill (74 to 22) that spans two years and maintains current funding levels. It prioritizes the upkeep of bridges and roads and is financed by a variety of fiscal offsets and by an additional transfer from the general fund. As I have said before, it patches the hole, puts policy reforms in place, and takes the program through a contentious election year with reliable funding that eludes states and contractors as construction season gets rolling.

Because the House and Senate passed different versions of a bill, a 47-member transportation bill conference committee was formed and is attempting to cobble together a compromise bill before the 90-day funding extension expires next month.

Your opinion counts—get it heard today by calling (202) 224-3121 and telling your rep to invest in a 21st Century transportation system and support the provisions in the Senate transportation bill during the conference.