Community leaders: DRIVE Act inadequate for transportation equity needs

Wade Henderson, the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, recently criticized the DRIVE Act issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“We appreciate the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ leadership on the urgent issue of transportation by issuing the DRIVE Act,” the duo said in a joint statement said. “While we are pleased that the DRIVE Act acknowledges the need to remove barriers to participation for entrepreneurs who are women and people of color and to fund research on the impacts of transportation costs for low-income people, the DRIVE Act does not represent the long-term vision for transportation policy and investment that our nation needs.”

Introduced on Tuesday, the DRIVE Act calls for spending $275 billion over the next six years on the nation's roads. 

“Transportation is a vital link to ensuring opportunity for all – connecting people to jobs, schools, housing, health care, and grocery stores,” the statement said. “For millions of Americans – particularly poor people and people of color – that link is broken. We are seriously concerned that the DRIVE Act does not include policies that repair that link.”

Lawmakers are facing a July 31 deadline for finding a new way to fund the nation's transportation system.

“We call on congressional leaders to pass surface transportation legislation that will generate jobs and economic opportunity for all, foster communities of opportunity, and measures success through equity and inclusion,” the statement said. “Seven in 10 Americans support investments in job training and infrastructure improvements that reduce racial and ethnic inequality. Our nation’s success, both economically and socially, depends on having a transportation system that works for everyone, not just a select few. It’s time for Congress to pass legislation aligned with that vision.”

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