With five working days left before the federal transportation program expires, lawmakers involved in crafting new legislation say they’re optimistic they can have something done by the June 30 deadline.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, who chairs the transportation bill’s negotiating committee of 16 senators and 33 House representatives, issued a joint statement with the committee’s vice chair, Rep. John Mica, R-FL, on Thursday, June 21.
“The conferees have moved forward toward a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a highway reauthorization bill,” they said. “Both House and Senate conferees will continue to work with a goal of completing a package by next week.”
Boxer and Mica did not offer specific details of the negotiations or what the bill could look like at this point, particularly whether it would still include controversial items like the Keystone XL Pipeline project.
Earlier in the week, House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, and Senate Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, urged the committee to finish the bill before the deadline.
Truckers have a lot at stake in the bill, which does more than fund highways and bridges. Possible provisions that could affect trucking include a “Jason’s Law” provision for safe truck parking, a study on cab crashworthiness, reforms for the brokering and freight-forwarding industry including an increase in the required bond amount, driver training, a study on the effects of regulations on small businesses, and language to crack down on chameleon motor carriers.
At last count, the bill could also include a government mandate for electronic on-board recorders, provisions for tolling and public-private partnerships, a federal drug and alcohol clearinghouse, and a study of crash-mitigation technology.