Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.

Highway Bill
Traditionally the “Highway Bill,” enacted every six years or so, has been one of the few pieces of legislation that was truly bipartisan. As the thinking in Washington, D.C. goes, roads and infrastructure needs to cross party lines. Obviously, both Republicans and Democrats use our transportation system and pitting the transportation needs of one region of the country versus another is counterproductive.

Well, the debate surrounding a new highway bill in 2020 is shaping up to break the mold. This week both the Democrats and the Republicans on the House Transportation Committee unveiled their frameworks for a new Highway Bill.

The Democrats lead by Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) outlined a $760 billion five-year infrastructure package that will include spending on highways, transit, rail and aviation.  Additionally, there was great emphasis on the issue of climate change, including measures that reduce carbon emissions from transport. DeFazio said the plan’s climate elements would include making federal buildings carbon-neutral and transitioning to renewable fuels for aviation, as well as a focus on transit and rail as a greener option than automobiles and airplanes.

Republicans on the House Transportation Committee issued their infrastructure principles, which mentioned a desire for more projects and permit streamlining but nothing about climate goals. The highest-ranking Republican on the Committee Sam Graves (R-MO) said “I may not agree with all of the principles in the majority’s outline, but as the Republican leader of this Committee, I expect to play a constructive role in the development of infrastructure bills before us this year, including expected surface transportation and water resources legislation. Any serious effort toward enacting infrastructure legislation must incorporate Republican principles as well.”

The battle between Republicans and Democrats in the House, as well as the differing priorities by members of the Senate, is something we at the MRF are motioning closely. Ensuring that the needs of the over 8.6 million motorcyclists in this country are addressed in a wide-ranging transportation bill is our top priority, regardless of who ends up writing the final legislation.

Paying the Bill
One of the major stumbling blocks for any legislation will be how to pay for these proposed projects. The House Ways and Means Committee is responsible for providing the revenue that pays for any legislation enacted. As such this week, the committee held a hearing titled, “Paving the Way for Funding and Financing Infrastructure Investments.”

This hearing is especially relevant because, as reported in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call this week:

  • Since it was created in 1956, the Highway Trust Fund — paid for primarily by a federal gas tax — has largely funded highway construction and maintenance as well as transit.
  • But increasingly fuel-efficient cars and a gas tax unchanged since the Clinton administration conspired to create a shortfall: Since fiscal 2008, the federal government has had to transfer more than $140 billion from its general fund and other government funds to meet the needs of the nation’s highways and mass transit.
  • The problem isn’t expected to get better. Between this year and fiscal 2030, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the cumulative shortfall for the highway account is expected to reach $134 billion, with a shortfall of an additional $54 billion for mass transit.

Numerous proposals are currently being discussed to find the needed funds for these planned projects. Recommendations include an increase in the gas tax, increased tolling, public-private partnership and a vehicle mile traveled (VMT) system that is all under consideration. Democrats have made indications they lean towards an increase in the current 18.3 cents per gallon gas tax while Republicans have spoken out in favor of a VMT.

This issue of funding will be critical to the debate surrounding any transportation legislation. Congress can pass laws authorizing the building new roads and fixes old bridges, but unless there is money dedicated to paying for these projects, it may just be a pipe dream.

BITB 2020 –
Groundhog Day is this Sunday and Punxsutawney Phil will let the world know if we have six more weeks of winter or if we all need to get our bikes ready for an early spring.  I know it may be hard for some of our members to think about planning their trip to Washington, D.C. for Bikers Inside the Beltway but we are only a few months away from lobby day.  We hope you will join us on May 18th for our lobby day prep session and storm the halls of the Capitol with us on May 19th.  The D.C. team is already hard at work to ensure that BITB 2020 will be our most successful lobby day to date.  We want to make sure that you have the information that you need to schedule your appointments and provide you with as much information as we can on each Congressional office on what issues you should thank them for being a cosponsor and which bills you should ask for their support.

So far, attendees from ten different states have registered online to attend: Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota & Wisconsin.

We hope that we can add you and your state to that list soon!

Register online at:

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