Senate moving closer to finalizing reauthorization bill

Dec. 9, 2011

Two more pieces in the puzzle that are a necessary part of the surface transportation reauthorization process are expected to come together in the next two weeks.

Two more pieces in the puzzle that are a necessary part of the surface transportation reauthorization process are expected to come together in the next two weeks.

The Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over the transit portion of the legislation and the Senate Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the safety components, are expected to markup their respective provisions of the bill next week. The Senate Finance Committee, which must provide the revenue to fund the bill, is not moving any closer to marking up its portion of the legislation. However, Republican members of the Finance Committee shared their proposed options for funding the legislation—also known as MAP-21—in a letter sent to Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
The letter, which was signed by seven of the 12 Republican Finance Committee members, proposes the following options to achieve the $12 billion necessary to finance the two-year reauthorization: $3.5 billion by rescinding funds for the Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing Loan Program, a $3 billion transfer from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, reclaiming transfers from the Highway Trust Fund to the Land and Water Conservation Fund ($2.5 billion over 10 years), expanded oil and gas production in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf ($5.2 billion over 10 years) and rescinding unspent federal funds (a $30 billion rescission would be required to net the needed $12 billion).

Although many of the suggested options are non-starters, the letter is seen as a positive development that Republicans on the committee are willing to work with Baucus in securing the money necessary to fund the Senate surface transportation reauthorization bill.

On the heels of the disappointing news last week that the House will not move forward with a surface transportation reauthorization bill this year, a bipartisan group of House Members, led by Congressmen Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and John Carney (D-Del.), sent a letter to President Obama expressing their support for a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. 

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