Stage set for highway bill debates in House and Senate

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Friday, February 10, 2012

Capitol Hill will be abuzz this coming week as both the House and Senate have cleared the way for debates on their respective versions of multiyear transportation bills.

The House bill, HR7, authored by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, calls for a five-year, $260 billion authorization of transportation policy and programs including motor carrier safety.

HR7 contains a provision on truck parking; a study on cab crashworthiness; an increase in the bond by brokers and freight forwarders from $10,000 to $100,000; a study of how regulations affect small-business truckers; provisions to increase driver training; a study of crash-avoidance technology; action to deal with reincarnated carriers; a drug and alcohol test clearinghouse; and more.

The House bill also ties domestic energy production, including oil and gas drilling, to transportation funding.

Notably, the House bill no longer contains a provision to increase truck weight to 97,000 pounds and allow longer combination vehicles on interstates, a provision that OOIDA helped get eliminated from the bill.

The Senate’s version of a transportation authorization calls for a two-year, $109 billion bill based on S1813, known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21.

The core of MAP-21 originated in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, but other committees have tacked on their provisions and amendments along the way.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee added S1950 to the bill, which includes a provision to move more truck freight to trains. The freight provision could be a sticking point among lawmakers during upcoming debates, according to OOIDA’s Washington, DC, staff.

The Senate Finance Committee and Banking Committee also added their respective provisions to the MAP-21 bill related to funding and transit programs.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, garnered enough votes to send the MAP-21 bill to the Senate floor for debate.

Copyright © OOIDA

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