Any Takers For a Green Stimulus? Senate Bill Lowballs Mass Transit

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We’ve been talking about this for a while now, but mass transit is getting woefully little attention in the economic recovery proposals released so far by Democrats.

The House’s stimulus bill, which is slated for a final vote on Wednesday, included only $10 billion for rail and other public transportation projects, compared with $30 billion for roads. (According to House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), the decision was made to leave enough room for tax cuts.)

But what about the Senate, where the second- and third-ranked leaders are blue-state mass-transit boosters Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY)? As it turns out, the upper chamber of Congress is doing even worse.The Senate Appropriations Committee’s draft stimulus includes just $9.5 billion for mass transit projects — “very frustrating,” in the words of Adam Terando, who’s done great work on this issue.

Aside from the fact that mass transit is among the biggest proven job creators under consideration, expanding high-speed rail and Amtrak is undeniably better for the environment than spending highway money without strict limits on new road construction. As Matt Yglesias notes, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is taking the lead on mass transit in the House … so who will step up in the Senate? The appropriations panel is marking up its stimulus tomorrow.

Here’s a list of senators on the committee, in case anyone wants to place a friendly constituent call.

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