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WASHINGTON (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) is celebrating a House Republican decision to back off a bill that could have meant severe cuts to funding for urban mass transit.
As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Lipinski says the transportation bill as drawn up also would have eventually reduced support for long-term mass transit projects across the country.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
“Right now, 20 percent of the gas tax goes to fund public transportation. That bipartisan agreement from 30 years ago was stopped under this bill,” Lipinski said.
Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), who also opposed the bill, explained last month that it would have reduced by $650 million the funds available for Illinois roads and bridges, and have jeopardized $450 million in public transit funding by unhooking it from the gas tax.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also strongly opposed the bill, which he said would have drastically affected the Chicago Transit Authority, for Metra, and Springfield, Ill., transit. It would also have cut funding for Amtrak by 25 percent, he said last month.
Durbin called the bill a Republican effort to shift transit funding away from urban, Democratic areas toward Republican strongholds.
Lipinski added last month that the bill would pave the way for oil shale strip mining and oil drilling in the pristine Arctic wildlife refuge.
Lipinski now says House Republicans have agreed instead to consider the Senate transportation bill that would continue funding mass transit out of the motor fuel tax.