Senate committee to take up highway bill in November

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Friday, October 21, 2011

A U.S. Senate committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the next long-term authorization bill in November. Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-CA, and ranking member James Inhofe, R-OK, of the Environment and Public Works Committee say they’ve made significant progress on putting a bill together that would last two years and be funded at current levels.

Also joining in are Sens. Max Baucus, D-MT, and David Vitter, R-LA, who lead the committee’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee.

“It is no secret that the four of us represent very different political views, but we have found common ground in the belief that building highways, bridges, and transportation systems is an important responsibility of the federal government, in cooperation with state and local governments and the private sector,” the four senators said in a joint statement.

Their version, estimated at $109 billion over two years, accounts for inflation on top of current spending levels. The senators are working with other Senate committees to come up with about $15 billion per year in new funding to account for the difference between their proposed spending level and what the Highway Trust Fund currently takes in.

Details of the bill, such as the motor carrier safety title – which could include things like truck parking, safety grants, electronic on-board recorders, speed limiters, etc. – have not been made public to this point. Neither have provisions such as tolling or highway privatization.

The EPW markup of the bill is scheduled for Nov. 9. Committee hearings are webcast at epw.senate.gov.

On the House side, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has proposed a six-year surface transportation plan paid for only with what the Highway Trust Fund takes in. House committees are reportedly searching for ways to generate $15 billion per year in new funding or face the possibility of cutting transportation funding by about 30 percent.

OOIDA leadership has not weighed in on the House or Senate proposals since the fine print of the motor carrier safety titles or sources for the so-called new funding have not been released.

In its list of highway funding principles, OOIDA encourages a strong highway network and responsible use of tax dollars by government. The taxes and fees paid by truckers make up 36 percent of the Highway Trust Fund.

Copyright © OOIDA

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