Tag Archive for 'construction industry'

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ASCE Reports: Surface Transportation Conference Committee Makes Progress and Gets More Time

{08d819bc-1d22-4dd2-80f4-4bea43d54eb4}_ASCE_GovernmentRelations_WashingtonThis week the Surface Transportation Bill Conference Committee met in what will likely be its only public meeting to finalize work on a compromise bill. Congress moved the November 20 deadline to December 4 to give conferees additional time to complete their work. The conference committee chairman, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) kicked-off the meeting by stating, “There is plenty of common ground between the [House & Senate] proposals to allow us to reach an agreement that both [chambers] can willingly support.” The lead House Democrat on the committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), underscored the importance of achieving an increase in overall funding in the final bill. “I’m hopeful to get higher levels of spending on an annual basis and if funds are so limited that we have to reduce the term of the bill, it’s an option I think should be looked at,” said DeFazio.

The committee announced a timeline which includes finalizing the conference agreement by November 30 and having a House vote on the bill by the December 4 deadline. It remains to be seen whether the Senate will be able to act before that date. They may need a week extension to approve the legislation before it can be sent to President Obama for his signature. Many members of the committee seem hopeful that a final agreement will be reached very soon and that they can craft a measure that will receive the necessary votes in both the House and Senate to be signed by the president.

In a letter sent to conferees this week , ASCE stated that a five-year program which includes significant funding increases should be the goal of the committee. Otherwise the country could begin to see the job losses and reduction in GDP identified by ASCE’s Failure to Act Economic Report.

Now is a critical time to reach out to conference committee members. Please take a moment to determine if your election official(s) sit on this committee and ask them to support a final bill that increases investment in America’s transportation system. Visit our Click and Connect page to identify your elected official! Take action today!

ASCE’s Comments Regarding House Passage of Six-Year Highway & Transit Bill

On November 5, 2014, newly-minted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) shepherded through his first piece of major legislation with bipartisan passage of a six-year, $325 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill.  The Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform (STRR) Act of 2015 cleared the House by a vote of 363-64.  A last-minute amendment was added to STRR that secured an additional $40 billion in revenue from an unused Federal Reserve account.  This means that while the House bill is now funded for a full six-years, it does not increase highway and transit funding levels over the current amount.

ASCE endorsed multiple amendments that were offered to raise the gas tax. However none of those amendments were allowed to receive a full vote on the House floor.

Following the bill’s passage, ASCE President Mark W. Woodson, P.E., F.ASCE, released a statement saying, “While the House-passed bill provides six years of stability for the nation’s road, bridge, and transit programs, it fails to increase funding to levels that are adequate to properly maintain our infrastructure.” Woodson went on to state that, “ASCE is disappointed that House leadership prevented a vote on raising the federal gas tax – a policy solution that would have provided long-term funding and certainty that states desperately need to move forward with their transportation projects.“

ASCE also weighed-in against a resolution introduced by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in support of devolving the federal transportation program to the states. The amendment was defeated 118-310. See how your Representative voted!

Some highlights of the House bill include:

  • Multi-year program certainty that will help states and localities better plan and deliver projects;
  • Accelerated project delivery reforms aimed to improve collaboration between agencies and create deadlines for agency action(s);
  • Providing grants to states for continued and expanded pilot testing of future road user fee collection systems;
  • A new competitive grant to address bus and bus facility needs;
  • Increased focus on funding for roadway safety infrastructure and on the safety needs of rural roads; and,
  • An option for localities to bundle small projects such as bridges to increase efficiency.

The House vote follows previous Senate action in July on their surface transportation bill which provided only three years of funding although at much higher levels.  Now the House and Senate will work to negotiate a compromise before the looming November 20 deadline.  ASCE will be reviewing the House and Senate bills to determine which provisions we favor to be included in any final agreement.  On funding, ASCE urges a final bill be multi-year with sizable funding increases for highway and transit programs.  In the coming weeks, ASCE will continue to engage with our members in our advocacy effort to #FixTheTrustFund. Thank you for all you have done to support the Society’s advocacy efforts!

ARTBA President & CEO Statement on the Passage of House Transportation Bill

American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane issued the following statement about the House passage of its multi-year highway and transit bill:

“The U.S. House of Representatives accomplished something today that it has not done in a decade: passage of a highway and transit bill that is more than two years in duration. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio deserve enormous credit for making it happen and in such a bipartisan manner.

“The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act helps end the eight-year cycle of short-term funding patches. It contains important provisions that renew focus on roadway infrastructure safety, improve the speed and efficiency in which projects are completed, and increase transparency in how the public’s tax dollars are invested.

“The bill, however, does not provide close to the investment levels the federal government says are necessary to maintain, let alone, improve conditions on the nation’s highways, bridges, and transit systems. And it does not include a long-term revenue solution for the beleaguered Highway Trust Fund.

“We urge members of the House and Senate to increase the investment levels in the final proposal that emerges from the conference committee. Absent a permanent Highway Trust Fund fix, the measure should also establish a bicameral, congressional task force with deadlines and consequences for Congress to finally develop a long-term plan to stabilize highway and public transit funding. Only then will America be able to begin building an infrastructure network that drives economic growth and boosts competitiveness in a 21st century global marketplace.”

New York Times 

Highway bill is approved by House

A six-year transportation-funding bill valued at more than $300 billion passed the House on Thursday with a vote of 363-64. The measure, which includes reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, will be reconciled with one that passed the Senate; a conference report is needed by Nov. 20. The House bill does not establish a permanent funding solution for the Federal Highway Trust Fund, and provides funds for only the first three years.

For the full New Your Times article: Click here

House passes STRR Act, a long-term highway bill that will spur investments to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure

AEM_logo_wo_cmykDennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment (AEM), issued the following statement following House passage of the STRR

 Dennis Slater

Dennis Slater

Act, a long-term highway bill, on Thursday:

Equipment manufacturers applaud the House for passing The STRR Act, a long-term highway bill that will spur investments to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure. This legislation is a worthwhile effort by House leaders to fulfill their pledge to pass a long-term highway bill this fall.

Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio deserve particular credit for shepherding the STRR Act through the House after months of behind-the-scenes efforts to build support for this important legislation. It’s also a testament to Speaker Ryan that the first major victory of his speakership is a bill that emerged through regular order that will also end a pattern of funding the Highway Trust Fund from deadline to deadline. The many other lawmakers who fought this year to educate colleagues on the harm of stopgap measures and who put forth innovative plans to end the trust fund’s chronic shortfall were similarly instrumental in today’s victory.

The STRR Act is doubly important because, like the DRIVE Act in the Senate, it would also provide long-term reauthorization for the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The Ex-Im Bank is a vital tool to help equipment manufacturers stay globally competitive and sell more of their products abroad.

Congress is now on the cusp of a major victory for American manufacturing. AEM will work tirelessly in the coming weeks to urge House and Senate leaders to expeditiously reconcile the differences between their two bills.

Democrat representative moves to increase gas tax by 15 cents

Democrat representative moves to increase gas tax by 15 cents

By Keith Laing

The Hill

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is introducing an amendment to nearly double the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax that is traditionally used to pay for federal transportation projects.

The Oregon Democrat is trying to attach a proposal to increase the gas tax by 15 cents to a $325 billion highway bill that is being considered by the House next week.

The proposed fuel tax increase would result in drivers paying taxes totaling 33.4 cents per gallon on their gas purchases, in addition to state taxes. The suggested gas tax hike matches a proposal that was included in the 2011 Simpson-Bowles budget reform recommendations.

Blumenauer said increasing the gas tax is the best way to close a multibillion-dollar transportation funding shortfall that has bedeviled lawmakers for a decade.

“The bill under consideration calls for a six-year period of spending authority, and hopes to be funded for three years with a combination of budget gimmicks and tax code smoke and mirrors over the next decade,” he said in a statement. “But Congress will be back to square one when that money runs out, facing an even bigger hole in the Highway Trust Fund — and once again throwing hundreds of thousands of jobs into uncertainty.”

The highway bill that is under consideration in the House only includes three years’ worth of guaranteed funding, which would be paid for mostly with revenue from the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax. The tax has traditionally been used to pay for federal highway bills since the 1930’s, but it has not been increased since 1993 and it has struggled to keep pace with rising construction costs.

The gas tax brings in about $34 billion per year at its current rate, but federal government typically spends about $50 billion annually on transportation projects. Lawmakers have turned to other areas of the federal budget to close the gap in recent years, but they have been forced to settle for a series of temporary highway funding patches that advocates say make it harder for states to plan large construction projects.

Transportation advocates have long pushed for a gas tax increase to close the approximately $16 billion annual shortfall in infrastructure funding that has developed as cars have grown more fuel efficient. Lawmakers have been reluctant to ask drivers to pay more at the pump, however, leaving the federal government’s Highway Trust Fund running on fumes for years.

Blumenauer said Friday it is time now to ask drivers to pay more to maintain the roads they drive on for the first time in 22 years.

“My amendment will not only fully fund H.R. 3763, but also provide enough revenue to increase investment above the current, anemic levels of spending,” he said. “A long-term transportation reauthorization should be fully funded with revenue that is sustainable, dedicated to transportation, and big enough to give states and local governments the federal partnership they need. Adoption of my amendment would do just that.”

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider amendments to the highway bill on Monday afternoon. The chamber is expected to bring the measure up for a vote of the full House later next week.