The bipartisan leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee—Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and subcommittee Ranking Member David Vitter (R-La.) announced Oct. 20 that they will markup a two-year surface transportation bill on Wednesday, Nov. 9. According to the announcement, the bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), maintains spending at current levels plus inflation, greatly increases leveraging of federal dollars and reforms the programs’ administration.
Outlines of the bill have been provided previously but the actual legislative language is not yet available. While the bill calls for maintaining current funding levels, to do that additional Highway Trust Fund revenue must be found. Identifying the necessary revenue is the responsibility of the Senate Finance Committee. Baucus, chair of the Finance Committee, has been working with Boxer in identifying a revenue source.
Meanwhile, the Senate began consideration of the FY 2012 transportation appropriations legislation. Congress has failed to enact any of the appropriations bills necessary to fund the federal government in FY 2012 and the stop gap continuing resolution that is currently in place expires on Nov. 18. The transportation appropriations bill has been consolidated with two other bills in an attempt to expedite the process. A final vote on the legislation was expected Oct. 20 or 21.
The legislation would fund the highway and transit programs at the same level as FY 2011. In addition, the bill provides an additional $1.5 billion in emergency relief funding and $550 million for the TIGER discretionary grants program. Several amendments that would impact transportation funding were considered but not adopted.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) may offer an amendment to prevent the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from adopting proposed revisions to the truck driver hours of service regulations that would reduce the number of daily and weekly hours that drivers in the construction industry can operate their vehicles.