Trail Policy 2017: The Latest Reports from Washington

Posted 08/17/17 by Patrick Wojahn in Policy, Taking Action

Mount Vernon Trail in Northern Virginia | Photo by Milo Bateman

When Congress returns after Labor Day with 12 legislative days left in the fiscal year, there will be a lot on the agenda! In this video, Leeann Sinpatanasakul and Patrick Wojahn—Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s (RTC's) advocacy manager and director of government relations, respectively—break down what’s in store for trails.

Where We’re At Now

On May 23, 2017, President Trump released his proposed FY 2018 budget. Like his “skinny budget” released in March 2017, the proposed budget made deep cuts to the U.S. Department of Transportation to the tune of $2.4 billion, or 13 percent from the previous year.

Most pertinent for trail networks, the proposed budget eliminates the popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Revenue) program, which has provided $340 million in funding for trail networks and active transportation projects to date. The attack was echoed by the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee—which passed a transportation bill to this effect. Fortunately, the Senate Appropriations Committee included $550 million—a $50 million increasefor the program in its own transportation bill; however, we will need to fight to protect that funding as negotiations continue.

What’s Next?

When Congress returns from recess in September, the members have their work cut out for them. In the days left before Oct. 1, they must 1) pass a budget to keep the government running (most likely they will pass a continuing resolution until December), and 2) increase the debt ceiling to keep the country from defaulting on its debt. While no other federal trail programs besides TIGER have been put forth for elimination, there is a full range of controversial issues associated with both tasks, and any programs could be up for grabs.

Congress needs to hear from you! Go to RTC’s Take Action page to support federal funding for trails and tell Congress how vital trails are to America.

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