March 08, 2017

Duckworth’s Bipartisan Bill to Support Illinois Jobs Unanimously Passes Senate


WASHINGTON, DC - Just 64 days after U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) was sworn in, the United States Senate unanimously passed the first bill she proposed in the chamber. Duckworth's new bipartisan bill would support Illinois jobs and protect infrastructure projects from needless bureaucratic delays by rolling back a misguided U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule that enables the governors of Wisconsin and Indiana to delay or block infrastructure improvements around Chicagoland. To secure the legislation's passage, Duckworth assembled a bipartisan coalition of Senate co-sponsors: U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Todd Young (R-IN) each supported her legislation.

"When I was sworn in as Illinois's newest U.S. Senator, I said I was eager to get to work on common-sense solutions for Illinois families that members on both sides of the aisle can agree on," said Senator Duckworth. "My first Senate bill and its swift, unanimous passage today shows that I was serious, and I'm honored every single one of my colleagues-and especially Senators Durbin, Capito and Young-worked with me to get it passed. Red tape shouldn't hurt our economy or stifle job growth, we needed to roll back this misguided MPO rule. I'll keep working to support hard-working Illinoisans and help grow good-paying Illinois jobs."

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) is sponsoring the companion measure. Since arriving in the Senate, Duckworth has made repealing this rule a priority. She highlighted this issue while questioning U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, video of which available here. She also held a roundtable with elected leaders and transportation officials in Chicago recently to discuss why the rule should be repealed.

"In record time, Senator Duckworth has passed her first Senate bill, which will ensure proper coordination of the comprehensive planning, development, funding, and selection of transportation projects in Illinois and across the country," said Senator Durbin. "Her bill will maintain the long-established cooperative working relationships between MPOs in our states and help to successfully coordinate transportation planning and investments in our region. This is a monumental first achievement, and I look forward to continuing our work together in the Senate for the advancement of Illinois."

The DOT rule that Duckworth's bipartisan legislation would repeal, called the "MPO Consolidation" rule, went into effect on January 20th. It requires Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to merge with their counterparts in other states if they are designated by the U.S. Census Bureau as sharing an urban area. Functionally, it will require the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to merge with MPOs in Wisconsin and Indiana, which would require any federal transportation funding for the Chicagoland region to be approved by the Governors of Wisconsin and Indiana.

"Thanks to my colleagues for working quickly to overturn this misguided rule," said Senator Young. "The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Coordination Rule is a prime example of a regulation in search of a problem. Hoosier MPOs have a reputation of working very well with sister organizations and this rule would prevent them from efficiently representing their local communities. I am glad that we were able to work together, in a bipartisan fashion, to do away with it."

Senator Duckworth's bipartisan legislation has been endorsed by the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).