Conservative group promises to watch votes on Senate transportation bill

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"Continuing to fund programs above dedicated revenue sources will inevitably lead to revenue increases (i.e., tax hikes) or bailouts," the Heritage email continued. "While it does not contain earmarks, MAP-21 would reward states whose congressional delegations were successful in obtaining above-the-line-earmarks in SAFETEA-LU by locking in those higher funding levels.

"Congress should live within its means, as opposed to perpetuating ever growing albeit somewhat streamlined government, and focus on ways to empower states such as opt-out provisions or devolution," the email concluded.

Meanwhile, several groups continued protesting a proposed cut to the amount of funding for public transportation in the House's version of the surface transportation bill. The measure would eliminate a trust fund for mass transit and stop the dedication of almost three cents of the federal gas tax from going toward public transportation.

"We are deeply concerned about the provision in H.R. 3864 that would terminate funding from the excise tax on gasoline and replace it with the Alternative Transportation Account," a group of organizations supporters say reaches 600 said in a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

"In place of gasoline tax revenues, the legislation would provide a one-time $40 billion transfer of General Fund revenues to the Alternative Transportation Account," the letter continued. "Not only is this level of funding insufficient to fully fund the proposed authorized levels for the Alternative Transportation Account, but it would subject transit and CMAQ funding to the annual appropriations process. This change will make it impossible for public transit systems across the  country to plan for the future."

The organizations that signed the letter to Camp include Transportation for America, AARP, US Chamber of Commerce and the American Public Transportation Association.