July 19, 2005 - While discussion and negotiations are ongoing, lawmakers have yet to resolve their differences to finalize the Highway Transportation Bill. Early this morning, it was unclear whether lawmakers will seek another extension or will use this an opportunity to pressure other lawmakers to agree to a final bill.
The most recent extension, which was OK'd June 30, set today, July 19, as the expiration date to keep pressure on a Conference Committee working to develop a compromise bill. The terms of the 1998 funding bill initially expired in September of 2003 and legislators have been unable to resolve differences for a new bill, leaving funding at the levels set in the 1998 legislation.
According to OOIDA's government affairs staff on Capitol Hill, the conferees now say they expect it will take until the end of the week to agree on remaining details. It will take several days after that for the conference report to be cleared by both houses and signed by the president.
Key sticking points in the negotiations include how to fund public transportation and what formula to use to distribute money to the states from the Highway Trust Fund.
Another unresolved issue is the mandatory fuel surcharge, which the House included in its version of the Highway Bill but the Senate did not. The House version of the bill would require that motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders running truckload freight implement fuel surcharges and then pass 100 percent of those surcharges through to the person who actually pays for the fuel.