By Greg Sitek
One of my frustrations is that the two proposed highways bills – House Bill and Senate Bill – are currently in the congressional blender, committee review where the differences will be discussed argued and resolved with a compromise.
While there are several variances between the House-passed STRR (Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform) Act and the Senate approved DRIVE (Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy) Act, lawmakers in both chambers and from both sides of the aisle are confident agreement will be reached, hopefully, in short order. The most difficult issue is the final bill’s duration and investment amounts. Some conferees are advocating for a longer authorization at current funding levels and others are urging a program size increase for a shorter time period.
Senate and House leadership are committed to disposing with final highway bill action before turning attention to the omnibus appropriations bill. Government funding expires on Dec. 1. However, with the highway program’s current authorization expiring on Nov. 20, Congress is poised to approve another short-term extension until Dec. 4.
By the time you read this a bill will be passed – Maybe.
|Transportation for America says:|
|15 months after MAP-21 was first extended in July 2014 and four short-term extensions and $18.9 billion in general fund transfers later, a select group of House and Senate leaders met y to begin ironing out the differences between each chamber’s bill in the hopes of passing a final version within the next few weeks. So where does each bill stand on key issues?
Both House and Senate bills largely represent three (or possibly six) more years of the status quo, doubling down on today’s outdated system for investing in transportation that shortchanges innovation and leaves local communities behind.
They’re willing to back that bet with as much as $85 billion of general taxpayer funds above and beyond the expected revenues from the gas tax.
We’ve put together a handy chart comparing the two bills on 11 key provisions or priorities like funding, greater local control, transit, TIGER, multimodal freight planning and funding, and others. Though there are a handful of policy improvements, some other areas take a clear step backwards from MAP-21.
Unfortunately, there’s little chance to further improve the final bill on most of our key priorities at this point, but we are keeping a close eye on discussions in the conference committee. Stay tuned with us on Facebook or Twitter for more updates as the negotiations continue.
Well, I was hoping to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Highway Bill Year but that’s not to be. You’ll have to settle for a simple Merry Christmas and Happy New year to you and your families and friends.
Meanwhile to keep pace with things happening in the industry and to the highway bill, visit: www.site-Kconkstructionzone.com or scan (insert Site-K QR code) with your smart phone.