Post-Elections Plans for Working with Congress, Administration
As President Obama and his team put together their plan to govern the nation for the next four years, ASLA urges the administration to continue the innovative Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which is a collaboration between the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work together to help communities nationwide improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment.
Landscape architects have benefited from these community grants, accessing them to help plan and design more sustainable, healthful places to live. The administration’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants, known as TIGER grants, have been extremely popular with landscape architects. A recent ASLA survey revealed that about 29 percent of survey respondents accessed TIGER grants to plan and design transportation projects across the country.
ASLA will also continue to work with the administration on developing guidance language to interpret the new surface transportation law, MAP-21, in a way that will create much-needed active transportation projects, like bicycle and pedestrian paths and trails. Recently, DOT issued interim guidance that clarified the eligibility of landscaping and scenic beautification projects and scenic byway projects under the new law.
Landscape architects should also look forward to the Obama administration unveiling a national stormwater rule that could include the increased use of green infrastructure and low-impact development projects to address our nation’s growing stormwater problems. In April 2012, EPA reached a landmark deal with the city of Philadelphia on a $2.4 billion stormwater plan that included using green infrastructure projects to soak up polluted stormwater—the federal regulator’s strongest endorsement yet of green infrastructure.
The election results expanded the U.S. Senate’s Democratic majority from 53–47 to 55–45 with the addition of Democratic senators from Indiana, North Dakota, and the anticipated addition of Angus King (I-Maine) to the Democratic Caucus. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over many of the programs and policies of interest to landscape architects, including transportation and water issues, will continue to be chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), and the ranking minority member of the committee will now be Senator David Vitter (LA).
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives retained their majority. Republicans won 233 seats, Democrats 192, with a handful of races still undecided. ASLA Honorary Members Earl Blumenauer (OR), Donna Edwards (MD), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Doris Matsui (CA), and Allyson Schwartz (PA) all won re-election to take seats in the upcoming 113th Congress. However, Honorary Member Russ Carnahan (MO) lost his bid for Congress in the Missouri primary in August against incumbent Lacy Clay (MO).
Representative Bill Shuster (PA) is expected to become the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, with Representative Nick Rahall (WV) expected to remain as the ranking minority member. However, committee assignments in both chambers remain fluid, and ASLA will continue to monitor new developments on the committees of interest to ASLA members.
ASLA looks forward to continuing to work with the Obama administration and all the members of the 113th Congress on issues that will benefit landscape architects and their firms.