Where things standing for funding transit and highways, today.
Some of you have heard the saying, “Watching a bill being created in Congress is like watching sausage being made, you really don’t want to know how they do it.” For those of you who grew up on the farm, right now you can recall the sights, sounds and smells of “hog butcherin’ day”!
That’s a bit how it’s been over the last week or so in our Nation’s capital as the Senate and the House committees have met to come up with their own versions of a way to fund public transportation (transit) and highways (roads & bridges).
There has been movement in several key committees, but it is what gets to the floor of the Senate and House, then passed by those bodies, that makes the real sausage - I mean Transportation Bill begin to take shape.
Where are we today?
10 - The House Ways and Means Committee passed H.R. 5021, a $10 billion package that will extend federal transportation funding through next spring. The bill would transfer approximately $10.8B from the General Fund into the Highway Trust Fund - $8.8B into the Highway Account and $2.0B into the Mass Transit Account. This bill provides both the authorizing of a continuation of MAP21 and the financing.
Today: H.R. 5021 is set to go to the House floor for a full vote.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement.
bipartisan legislation ensures stable funding for the Highway Trust Fund, and the Senate proposal matches our amount of funding. Given that the Senate has repeatedly backed these policies before, I urge my Senate colleagues to quickly take up this bill after it passes the House next week and avoid any brinksmanship. There is no need to jeopardize critical road and transit projects, let alone the thousands of jobs they provide. The House and Senate can easily pass this legislation.”
10 - Senate Finance Committee passed the PATH proposal. This bill has only the financing piece. As Billy Terry from APTA put it, “the Senate passed only a half of a loaf”. The PATH proposal is headed to the Senate.
is the tricky part. The Senate has indicated that once the House passes H.R. 5021, the Senate will take the House bill and accept the FINANCIAL part of the bill. The PROGRAMS part, or the way MAP-21 functions, will need to be debated. The part of the authorizing program they will debate is HOW LONG THE BILL IS FOR.
Democrats in the Senate would like to have a bill that goes only through December 31, 2014, while the Republicans in the Senate would like to extend MAP-21 to May 31, 2015. The financial part of the bill allows for the May 31 date. The Democrats could lose control of the Senate in November and want to force a long term solution to be created during the lame-duck session between November and January.
Senator Wyden, (D-OR), Chairman of the Senate Financing Committee, released these comments, “Congress must get beyond the gridlock where each faction says, ‘It’s my way, or no highway.’” and “The bipartisan mark contains important priorities for both sides: for
example, tax loophole closing to crack down on those who do not pay what they owe, and it squeezed more value out of current government spending, while setting aside funds to protect endangered pensions and the needs of workers in a tough, global economy.”
Chairman’s main concern is that a short term fix with an end date well into 2015 will keep Congress from creating a truly sustainable long-term fix to pay for transportation in America.
While the Obama Administration would love for their GROW America Act, a four year transportation bill that includes $302 billion in road and transit spending to be passed, the Administration is, surprisingly in support of the House bill, H.R. 5021, referenced above.The
White House on Monday, July 14, backed the $10 billion bill in the House that would extend federal transportation funding through next spring.
surface transportation funding running out and hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk later this summer, the administration supports House passage of H.R. 5021,” the White House said in a statement. “This legislation would provide for continuity of funding for the Highway Trust Fund during the height of the summer construction season and keep Americans at work repairing the Nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems.”
Links to referenced quotes are below.
Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
House Ways and Means Press Release
Senate Finance Committee Press Release
White House endorses Republican highway bill
APTA Legislative Updates
CTAA Legislative Updates