The House of Representatives passed H.R. 2353, a short-term surface transportation authorization extension through July 31.
The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015, sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), passed by a vote of 387 – 35 – 1. This extension comes after several weeks of failed negotiations to find approximately $11 billion to fund the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) until the end of the calendar year.
House and Senate leaders were unable to reach an agreement on offsets for a bill that would extend the programs through the end of the year, which was intended to give Congress time to form a larger tax reform package to pay for a multi-year surface transportation bill.
Congress is scheduled to head home for the Memorial Day recess period.
"We appreciate the U.S. House of Representatives for passing an extension of the federal program for surface transportation funding, also known as MAP-21. However, this extension does not increase funding for public transportation, roads, bridges and rails, it merely maintains the current funding levels of the program until the end of July. It also avoids the May 31 deadline when the program was set to expire.
"It is our understanding that it is likely this action by the House will lead to an additional extension of the federal program which could last until the end of the year. Congressional leaders note that this extension is intended to provide time to secure funding for a long-term bill.
"APTA strongly believes that Congress should expedite its efforts and find a solution that provides for long-term investment in our public transportation, road and rail network. It is crucial that Congress act with urgency to address the nation's crumbling infrastructure.
"Congress must get focused and use these two months to develop realistic and viable options for a long-term solution to funding the nation's transportation system.
"There is an $88 billion backlog just to get public transportation infrastructure up to a state of good repair, according the Federal Transit Administration's latest estimates.
"Long-term investment in our nation's public transportation infrastructure provides a tremendous boost to our nation's economy. In fact, one dollar invested in public transportation results in four dollars in economic returns. And one billion dollars invested in public transportation yields 50,000 jobs.
"Public transportation ridership has reached its highest levels in 58 years with more than 10.8 billion trips last year. We strongly encourage Congress to continue its work to provide a much needed jolt to the economy and address the increasing demand for public transportation.
"We look forward to working directly with both Houses of Congress and the Administration to encourage them to pass a comprehensive long-term transportation bill that grows the program."