Senate bill includes many issues on OOIDA watch list

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Thursday, December 16, 2010

OOIDA leadership is keeping a close eye on a catch-all spending bill being considered in the U.S. Senate. The bill, a $1.1 trillion package designed to keep government programs funded and functioning across the spectrum, contains provisions on Mexican trucks, vehicle size and weight, toll roads and transportation spending among the highlights of interest to truckers.

The Senate bill consolidates 12 spending bills into one omnibus bill. It was introduced as a substitute to HR3082, which has already passed the House. The Senate Appropriations Committee has advanced the bill, and the full Senate is under a deadline to pass it this weekend or government operations will be furloughed.

“This is not a new bill. These are not new appropriations,” OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Mike Joyce said. “This is Congress’s annual duty to pass appropriations bills that haven’t yet been passed.

Joyce said the current system is operating under a continuing resolution that expires at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18.

“This bill was introduced by Senate Democrats. And it’s unclear at this point whether this omnibus bill will move forward or if the Congress will simply send a continuing resolution to the president that will simply fund the government into next year,” Joyce said.

Included in the catch-all appropriations bill are some provisions the Association is interested in.

  • A provision to reaffirm Section 350 and 6901 from previous appropriations bills and require annual reports from the DOT secretary on “the safety and security of transportation into the United States by Mexico-domiciled motor carriers”;
  • A provision to prohibit the imposition of tolls on any segment of Federal-Aid Highway infrastructure in the state of Texas;
  • A proposed one-year extension of a pilot program in Maine and Vermont to increase legal truck weights to 100,000 pounds;
  • $41 billion for Federal-Aid Highway program, an increase of $669 million from 2010 levels;
  • $500 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for highways, bridges, passenger rail and ports;
  • A rescission of $630 million in earmarks that went unused;
  • $1 billion for high-speed rail grants, a decrease from $2.5 billion in 2010;
  • $350 million for port security; and
  • $563 million for FMCSA, a $12.7 million increase from 2010.

The bill does not include the president’s request for $4 billion for an infrastructure bank, nor does it provide the $20 million requested by the president to create an Office of Livable Communities within the office of DOT secretary. It does, however, contain $250 million in measures designed to promote sustainable community initiatives.

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