As the Republican-controlled House of Representatives mulls how to tackle the pending expiration of federal funding for highways, the Democratic minority leadership has turned to Southampton’s .
Bishop, a five-term Democrat, is tasked with being the primary sponsor of the House version of MAP-21, or Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, a bill already passed in the Senate that would extend transportation funding for two years.
“It’s extremely important and there’s about 3 million jobs wrapped up in this bill,” Bishop told Patch on Friday. He has gathered 118 co-sponsors so far.
A new funding bill must be passed by Saturday, or many transportation programs will be suspended, wsj.com reports.
The Senate bill, introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., was approved March 14 by a vote of 74 to 22.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has pushed for a five-year bill, but Bishop said Boehner never brought the bill to the floor because it could not garner enough votes as some Republicans rejected it and not one Democrat would vote for it. “It basically eliminates the guarantee of transit funding that has been carried forward on a bipartisan basis for 30 years,” Bishop said. He added that, under the bill, New York would have lost about $1 billion in highway funding over five years.
Because Congress has banned earmarks, Bishop said he cannot say exactly what passing MAP-21 would mean for highway projects in his district. But he could say that New York State would be better off if the House adopts the Senate's MAP-21 rather than the five-year bill.
“Under the Senate bill, New York would gain funding, so the Senate bill is vastly preferable for New York,” Bishop said. “If New York gets more money, Long Island will get more money, if Long Island gets more money, my district will get more money.”
Past projects in Southampton that received federal funds include work on Millstone Brook Road and Noyac Road and the the widening of County Road 39, Bishop said.
MAP-21 is not a perfect bill, Bishop acknowledged. “One of the things I don’t like about the Senate bill is that it is two years instead of five, but two years is vastly preferable to what the House Republican leadership is talking about now, which is a 45-day extension or a 90-day extension,” he said. The extension would give the House leadership more time to work on an acceptable five-year bill, but Bishop said highway project planning can't happen in 45-day or 90-day increments.