1982 Scorecard Vote
The vote is on the Weiss (D-NY) amendment to the Transportation Assistance Act (H.R. 6211), better known as the gasoline tax bill. The amendment would have removed a provision setting aside more than $300 million each year for construction of "high cost" interstate highways. It is precisely these highways, like Westway in New York City, that are being fought by local environmentalists, because they increase air pollution and energy consumption, in some cases destroy valuable wildlife habitat, and take money away from rail and mass transit systems that are better for the environment. Most of them are commuter highways that the U.S. Department of Transportation does not consider "essential to the completion of an interconnected Interstate Highway System."
The current law allows states to "transfer" Interstate Highway authorizations for alternative mass transit projects. But the new provision which Weiss tried to remove would have discouraged this, because the $300 million was not available to states which transferred their highway money to mass transit projects. The White House and the Congressional proponents of this nickel a gallon gasoline tax systematically misled the public into believing that 4 cents of the tax would go for much needed road and bridge repairs, while 1 cent would go to additional aid for public transit. In reality, at least 40% of the money in the bill will go for new highway construction. Furthermore, in his new fiscal 1984 budget proposals, President Reagan broke his promise to support an additional $1.1 million for mass transit from the gasoline tax, scaling this figure back to a mere $30 million. Amendment rejected 21-329; December 6, 1982. YES is the pro-environmental vote. The gasoline tax bill became law.