Yesterday, Congress enacted a short-term extension of current highway and transit program authority before the looming deadline of October 29. The current authorization and solvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund will now expire on November 20, which gives Congress about three more weeks to conclude a few important remaining steps in the process of completing work on a surface transportation bill:
- Next week the House will take-up and likely pass its own six-year transportation bill which provides flat-line funding for the next three years;
- Immediately thereafter, the House and Senate will convene a conference committee and work quickly to produce a compromise bill;
- The House and Senate will then have to pass an identical bill through each chamber before it can be sent to President Obama for his signature, hopefully before the November 20 deadline.
With the next step being the need of the House to pass a bill, ASCE needs you to contact your House member and urge he/she to support the House bill so that funding and policy differences can be addressed in conference with the Senate. While ASCE remains concerned about the woefully inadequate funding levels provided in the House bill for highway and transit programs, there are legislative reforms included that will improve various aspects of the nation’s surface transportation program. In particular, the House bill contains sound polices that aim to improve roadway safety, streamline the environmental review and permitting process, and enhance the level of private-sector investment in surface transportation projects.
Please take a moment to tell your Representative to vote YES on the House bill in order to get to a conference with the Senate where agreement can be reached on a final bill.