Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
DOT Head Ray LaHood Takes Another Whack At House Transpo Bill: It "Takes Us Back to the Horse and Buggy Era"
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 03:52 PM
US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who has called the House transportation bill “the most partisan ever” and the “worst bill in decades," continues to pile on. Yesterday, he called the bill "lousy" and said "it takes us back to the dark ages."
In a conference call today about rail and bus rapid transit projects, LaHood spoke passionately about the virtues of our nation's transit systems. They "are more than the way we get from point A to point B," he said. "They're the lifelines of our regional and national economies, they're they ways we lead our lives and pursue our dreams."
Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff was asked on the call about federal funding for transportation projects, and he spoke in measured terms about the current debate raging in the capitol. "Some of the proposals that have been considered in the House pose a great threat to transit funding," he said.
"I'm going to put this more directly," interjected LaHood. "The House bill takes us back to the horse and buggy era. That's why over 300 amendments have been offered -- many of them by Republicans, to a Republican bill. This bill in the House was written by one person, one person only, it's not bipartisan."
He then broke it down further. "In the House there's a rules committee, they're going to decide this afternoon which one of these or many of these 300 amendments are going to be allowed to be debated on the House floor...many of these amendments would restore transit funding, and restore this program to a program that reflects the values of what people in America want. They want more transit. So we'll see how it all plays out."
Later, in the call, LaHood, a former GOP Congressman from Illinois, became more optimistic when talking about the Senate's bill. "I anticipate that we're in a very good position in the Senate to have a bipartisan bill," he said, "and then we'll see what happens with the House bill."