By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA
ARTBA and 87 other trade associations, business groups, and labor unions are urging Congress to support a year-long extension of federal highway and public transportation programs with increased funding. In a Sept. 9 letter, the diverse group also asked Congress to provide immediate funding backstops for state departments of transportation and public transportation agencies.
ARTBA members are encouraged to contact their members of Congress to support the two-pronged plan through the digital Grassroots Action Center. The FAST Act, the current surface transportation law, expires Sept. 30.
The Senate returned Sept. 8 from its summer recess and attempted to restart negotiations on another COVID-19 relief package. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed a $300 billion package that would provide funds to education and health care programs and would reauthorize the Paycheck Protection Program that provides loans and grants to small businesses. The legislation did not include any direct aid for surface or aviation transportation programs.
The package–one tenth the size of the relief bill the House passed in May–failed to garner the 60 votes required to advance. A path forward on another pandemic relief bill remains elusive.
The House returns Sept. 14, setting up a busy few weeks on Capitol Hill. In addition to the FAST Act expiration, Congress and the president also must enact spending levels to avoid a government shutdown before 12 annual appropriations laws lapse Sept. 30.