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   Where There's a Cause, There's a Caucus

NEWS INFORMATION

Parent

Parent

News Date

4/5/2007 9:00 am

Author

Media

Washington Post

Category

News

Database Record

Entered 4/5/2007, Updated 4/5/2007

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Every morning in Washington, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) rides his rusty red-orange Trek bicycle to work on Capitol Hill, a reminder of one of the first things he did when he came to Congress in 1996: create a bike caucus. With 165 members, the bipartisan Congressional Bike Caucus promotes the use of bicycles as a substitute for cars -- a way to exercise, reduce fossil fuel emissions and improve travel patterns. The caucus shepherded $4 billion for trails, bike paths and pedestrian facilities in a big transportation spending bill in the last Congress. "I have saved hundreds of hours of time. I have burned thousands and thousands of calories instead of gallons of petroleum and, after 10 years, have probably saved $50,000," said Blumenauer, who also chairs the Congressional Trails Caucus. The bike caucus is just one of the zany-sounding groups that lawmakers have created on Capitol Hill to advance niche interests in Congress. There's no trick to creating a caucus -- or "congressional member organization" -- in the House, where it takes just a letter to the Administration Committee. Nearly 300 have registered. The Senate has far fewer groups, and they don't register at all.


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