June 23, 2011

Senators unveil transportation reauthorization bill framework

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK), Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), and Subcommittee Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA) announced a framework for a six-year bill to reauthorize federal surface transportation programs. They are calling their legislation “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, MAP-21.” 

The framework funds programs at current levels and accommodates for inflation, providing $339.2 billion over six years and averaging $56.5 billion annually. Highlights include: eliminating earmarks, consolidating programs, expediting project delivery and expanding the Transportation Innovation and Finance Act (TIFIA) program, which provides federal credit assistance for projects. 

Although the framework represents a six-year bill, Sen. Boxer has not ruled out a two-year measure to maintain current funding. Revenues to the Highway Trust Fund have not kept up with disbursements.  

Sen. Boxer intends to finish the bill over the next couple weeks and bring it up for Committee action before the July 4 Recess.  House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, who is currently drafting the House bill, announced that he will unveil his proposal July 7 and hold a Committee markup July 12. 

The Obama Administration has not released an official reauthorization proposal but as part of its fiscal year 2012 budget request earlier this year outlined a blueprint for a six-year, $556 billion bill. The plan did not identify revenue sources. 

SAFETEA-LU expired September 2009. A seventh temporary extension of federal surface transportation programs expires September 30, 2011.

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