Is reauthorization liftoff closer now?

| November 7, 2011

Bipartisanship. It has been said for a long time that transportation is the most bipartisan of issues on the Hill. Maybe it still is.

So now the Democratic-lead Senate and the Republican-lead  House agree on funding levels for a new surface transportation act — new legislation would keep it at current levels. They already basically agree on reforms to be included in such legislation. So there’s no stopping them now, right?

This may be a case of ‘just when you think everything is going to work out….”  Then again, maybe we’ve finally seen the end of extensions to dear old SAFETEA-LU.

In a bipartisan statement from Boxer’s Environment and Public Works Committee, we hear:

The legislation maintains funding at current levels, reforms the nation’s transportation programs to make them more efficient, and provides robust assistance for transportation projects under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program to leverage state, local, and private-sector funding.

The rub of course is that the Highway Trust Fund doesn’t bring in enough money to keep funding at current levels, so where does the rest come from? On the other hand, it would have been very easy to continue using this problem to stall any progress. It seems as if  the Senate has decided to work out the shortfall problem later rather than sooner, and that may just let a bill become reality. The other hurdle of course is that even current levels of  funding will not really be enough for the work that’s needed on our transportation infrastructure. And this Senate bill covers just 2 years while House wants a 6- year bill.

Read the the entire Senate Environment and Public works Committee statement, including something from all of the leading committee figures, here.

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