Senate passes two-year transportation bill

| March 19, 2012

Barbara Boxer speaking at Rally for the Roads in Washington, D.C., on March 20

Barbara Boxer speaking at Rally for the Roads in Washington, D.C., on March 20

In an overwhelming show of support, the U.S. Senate on March 14 voted to pass a two-year transportation bill valued at $109 billion.

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, passed in a generally bipartisan 74-22 vote, reauthorizes federal highway and transit programs for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 at the 2011 investment level. This follows extensive lobbying efforts by construction industry groups, including the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

Following the Senate’s action, ARTBA attention shifts to the House of Representatives, where up for vote will be H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, to reauthorize surface transportation programs for five years. This legislation would make a number of policy and procurement reforms contained in the Senate’s MAP-21 Act and would authorize $260 billion in total investment.

However, despite pressure from the White House and congressional Democrats, the House will not take up the Senate’s $109 billion transportation bill, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said on March 20, according to a report from The Hill transportation blog.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said the lower chamber will pass a short-term extension of the current funding bill for road and transit projects, which will be the ninth short-term extension of legislation that expired in 2009, according to The Hill.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said the lower chamber will pass a short-term extension of the current funding bill for road and transit projects, which will be the ninth short-term extension of legislation that expired in 2009, according to The Hill.

Mica says he will introduce a three-month extension of highway and transit programs.  The extension will not include changes to current transportation policy.

He said in a written statement that on March 22 he introduce a short-term extension through June 30 to ensure continuity of current programs while “I and House Republicans continue to work toward a responsible transportation bill that provides long-term certainty, reduces the size of government, eliminates earmarks, and is fully paid for. We continue to believe that linking energy and infrastructure is the responsible thing to do in order to meet our long-term needs.”

At the Second Annual Rally for the Roads transportation rally in Washington, D.C., held on March 20, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said: “No great country can exist when our roads are falling down around us…,” reported Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief of Aggregates Manager, a sister publication to Better Roads.It’s not the time for partisanship or experimentation. I ask the House to pick up the Senate bill. They need to pass it. The president has said he will sign it. Tip O’Neill counted to 218 votes and he didn’t care if it was a Democratic or Republican vote. That’s what we need from Speaker Boehner… Put aside the fights and do something good for America.”

Better Roads Executive Editor Tina Grady Barbaccia contributed to this report.

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