Commuter tax benefit gets GOP champion

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Hayworth's introduction of the measure gives a Republican champion to an issue that has long seen support from Democrats in both the House and Senate. Democratic lawmakers in both chambers have argued for restoring the commuter tax benefit since its expiration on Jan. 1.

Hayworth's office said the measure she was introducing would be co-sponsored by fellow GOP lawmakers Reps. Pete King (R-N.Y.) and Robert Dold (R-Ill.).

Lawmakers had considered including the commuter tax benefit in the recently approved surface transportation bill. The benefit, which was included in the 2009 economic stimulus, reverted to $125 at the beginning of the year, while the benefit for parking was adjusted to $240 dollars.

A provision raising the commuter benefit back to its 2011 levels was included in the Senate's original version of the $105 billion transportation bill, but it did not survive the conference negotiations with the House.

Transit groups have expressed dismay at lawmakers for leaving the provision out of the new highway bill.

“More and more Americans are relying on public transportation to get to and from work, school, the doctor and other daily tasks and this bill will hit them right in the pocket,” Amalgamated Transit Union Larry Hanley said in a statement when it became clear the provision would not survive the transportation conference.

Hayworth said this week that her bill would give a lot of those public transportation users some relief. 

"This bill will give a break to more than 70,000 Hudson Valley neighbors who are helping us to reduce congestion on our roads and streets," she said.