Senate Highway Bill Passes
The United States Senate passed its version of a federal highway bill today. The measure (S 1813) provides $109 billion over two years for highway projects. The final vote was 74-22. The bill moved quite quickly, considering the speed of the Senate these days. There was some discussion over amendments, the bulk of which were rejected.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) is pleased to report that no federal helmet mandates are attached to this bill, which in the past has been the case. Even the last version of the bill that was voted on in 2005 had a full floor vote on an amendment that would have required every state to have a full mandatory helmet law, or have millions of dollars of their highway funds withheld.
“This year the mandatory helmet law issue was only a small part of the very early discussion of the Senate bill,” said Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs. “Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) filed a few motorcycle amendments during the committee phase, but he did not bring them up for a vote,” he added.
The future is blurry for the Senate bill, as the House of Representatives has been flip-flopping on supporting it. Right now the House is supporting its own five-year bill, but it has not been brought for a floor vote.
While the MRF supports the House bill because it contains the language that would ban federal funding of mandatory motorcycle roadside checkpoints, it’s not likely to see the return of the 2010 funds. Both the House and Senate bills send all safety money in one pot back to the states to give them flexibility.
The MRF will keep you updated on this and every other issue affecting motorcyclists in the Nation’s capital.