House Passes 6-Year Transportation Bill

Written by Sandy Williams

The House of Representatives passed a six-year transportation bill that will provide up to $325 billion for transportation projects including $261 billion for roads and bridges. The funding is expected to last three years although a last minute amendment was adopted that could provide an additional $40 billion during the life of the bill.

“I am very pleased, that after ten years of short-term band-aids and extensions, the House finally passed a bipartisan, six-year transportation bill,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “This legislation isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide the level of investment needed to repair or rebuild our aging 1950s-era system of roads, bridges, and public transit systems.”

Funding for the bill includes a “critical provision that would allow for automatic adjustments and increased infrastructure investment if more money flows into the Highway Trust Fund than currently projected,” said DeFazio. “If Congress does the right thing and comes up with more revenue to deposit into the Highway Trust Fund,” he added, “this mechanism will invest those funds in our surface transportation infrastructure, without any additional action by Congress.

The Associated General Contractors issued the following statement after passage of the transportation bill:

“It is encouraging to see overwhelming House support for a long-term highway and transit measure. Today’s vote sends a strong message that Washington officials can find a way to work together to help address crucial problems like aging roads, decaying transit systems and unsafe bridges. This new measure will provide state officials with the resources they need to improve road safety, cut congestion and cut shipping and transport costs for millions of American businesses.

“As needed as this new measure is, both the House and Senate have failed to address the long-term funding challenges that have repeatedly threatened the viability of the federal transportation program. That is why we will continue to work aggressively to make sure that Congress not only completes this vital measure but that our elected leaders include a viable, long-term solution for funding future transportation investments either in this measure or another bill.”

Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), said in a statement after the vote, “Equipment manufacturers applaud the House for passing The [Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform] Act, a long-term highway bill that will spur investments to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.”

The American Trucking Association praised passage of the bill. ATA President and CEO Bill Graves urged “House and Senate leaders to come together on a final bill that increases highway investment to send to President Obama this year.”

“ATA is encouraged that this bill included a dedicated program for funding important highway freight projects and streamlined environmental reviews of federally funded highway projects. We are also pleased that lawmakers continued to support a strong federal role in transportation by soundly rejecting a resolution that endorsed devolving the funding of roads and bridges to states. We are also pleased that the House bill underscores the primacy of federal work and safety laws. Unfortunately, both the House and Senate bills envision a continued prominent role for new Interstate tolls despite their inefficiency and unpopularity, and we hope a final bill resolves that issue by avoiding the expansion of Interstate tolling authority and, preferably, by eliminating existing loopholes.”

The bill now needs to be reconciled with the Senate version before it can be signed into effect. The current short-term funding extension expires on November 20.

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