We pleaded with Congress, “just approve something…anything!” to end the gridlock preventing the passage of a transportation funding bill, and pass something is exactly what they did. With the Highway Trust Fund-the main source of transportation infrastructure funding-projected to run out before the end of the year, Congress is under pressure to find new sources of funding in the short and long term. The House passed S.1813 by a vote of 293-127, which now moves on to negotiations in the Senate. The bill includes the following:
- Extends SAFETEA-LU through the end of September;
- Accelerates approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline;
- Requires that Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund funds be used for harbor maintenance only;
- Allows each state to regulate and enforce its own coal combustion residuals permit program and gives the EPA oversight of any deficiencies in state regulations; and
- Streamlines federal environmental requirements to speed up highway construction.
The negotiating committee will consist of members from both houses, but with a week-long legislative recess next week it might be a while before the negotiations begin. The negotiation process could take months, and may not conclude before Congress recesses in October. Adding to the delay are various controversial components of the bill -such as the Keystone pipeline-that may ultimately kill the deal. For more information contact Kate Klimow, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs.