Senate R’s Attempts to Strip Bike/Ped Requirment Dies on Senate Floor

Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) attempt
to curb federal investment in bicycle and pedestrian paths, as well as
other "transportation enhancements," was defeated on the Senate floor
today — but it managed to pick up two unlikely Democratic supporters
in the process.

87913182_Vrns4_M.jpgA college-age Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), with her father at right. (Photo: Klobuchar for Senate)

Sens.
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jim Webb (D-VA) voted with Coburn to allow
states to opt out of a current mandate to spend 10 percent of federal
transportation aid on bike and pedestrian paths, bike-ped safety
education, and other programs.

Coburn’s amendment fell short by a vote
of 39-59, with three other Democrats, Sens. Russ Feingold (WI), Evan
Bayh (IN), and Claire McCaskill (MO), also aligning with the majority
of Republicans in favor of the opt-out.

Feingold, Bayh, and
McCaskill are fiscal hawks who frequently vote to limit the scope of
government spending, making their votes less surprising than Klobuchar
and Webb’s — if just as disheartening for clean transportation
advocacy groups.

Klobuchar in particular hails from a state where bicycling is a popular element of local culture. She has spoken often of her personal appreciation of biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities, and welcomed a 14-year-old climate activist to Washington after the young girl’s 1,500-mile bike ride.

Klobuchar’s
office has not yet responded to an inquiry about her vote on Coburn’s
two amendments to the Senate spending bill that funds U.S. DOT for next
year. The second Coburn amendment that fell short today was a modified
version of his earlier proposal to restrict all "transportation
enhancements."

Even when limited to only block funding for transportation museums, however, the second Coburn plan was defeated on a 41-57 vote.

One GOP amendment that did make it
into the DOT spending bill was Sen. Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) proposal to
allow Amtrak riders to carry guns and ammunition locked in their
checked baggage. Twenty-seven Democrats joined all 41 Republicans to
approve the proposal.

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