Is a new transportation bill finally a reality?
June 21, 2012
Still holding your breath to see if our elected leaders might just pass a transportation bill nearly three years after the last bill expired? Well, guess what? You are in luck….sort of.
While House and Senate conferees have been meeting frequently over the past several weeks, reports of any meaningful progress towards a new bill have been lacking. With the ninth continuing resolution—political speak for “extension”—of the old bill, SAFETEA-LU—expiring at the end of the month (which keeps spending at previous and now clearly underfunded levels), it has been widely assumed a tenth one is en route for myriad reasons.
That was the general consensus, until today anyhow.
Earlier in the day, U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee issued a statement about the bill and the negotiations. And if what they are saying ends up becoming a reality, it stands to reason that it is good news for freight transportation stakeholders everywhere.
“The conferees have moved forward toward a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a highway reauthorization bill,” said Mica and Boxer. “Both House and Senate conferees will continue to work with a goal of completing a package by next week.”
This development was widely embraced by Janet Kavinoky, executive director of transportation and infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“It is time for Congress to pass a transportation reauthorization bill and send it to the president for his signature,” said Kavinoky. “We are increasingly confident that this agreement will include critical reforms that will greatly improve the business of transportation investment in this country. The conference committee appears poised to advance policies that will consolidate overlapping and duplicative federal programs; streamline the project delivery process to shorten project times and save limited federal dollars; give states the flexibility to target federal funds where they are most needed; and increase opportunities for private investment. It is our hope that the Congress will also provide much needed certainty by maintaining funding levels over the next year and a half. Legislation to improve this country’s transportation system is long overdue and will help stabilize critical parts of the economy and strengthen our competitive edge.”
Now, we wait and see what happens next week. It seems like there is reason for optimism. Let’s hope that is the case.
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