House now opting for shorter highway bill

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 2/24/2012

Leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives are making concessions to pass a shorter transportation bill than initially proposed. Lawmakers had sought a five-year, $260 billion bill but didn’t have the votes to pass it, especially without mass transit. While disappointed in some of the compromises, OOIDA continues to support the passage of a long-term bill.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, is taking steps to pass the bill, including making it shorter, although he had not announced a precise duration as of Friday, Feb. 24.

The House has already separated a provision that would supplement transportation funding with proceeds from domestic oil and gas drilling. That provision is now running a separate course from the core bill, HR7.

Throughout the process, lawmakers have argued over funding and whether to include mass transit as part of the Highway Trust Fund.

Republicans and Democrats who wanted mass transit to remain part of the highway trust appear to be getting their way in the compromise. The initial plan would have established an “alternative transportation” account and moved mass transit there, but the latest plan returns it to the highway fund.

What’s left in the House bill may not be substantially different from counterpart legislation being considered in the Senate, according to OOIDA’s Washington, DC, staff.

The Senate version, S1813, is a two-year, $109 billion bill that focuses on highways and the consolidation of programs within the Department of Transportation.

“At their core, both the House and Senate bills focus on similar things, such as cutting environmental red tape, consolidating duplicative programs at DOT that divert dollars away from highways, and giving states the flexibility to dedicate funds to their core needs,” OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ryan Bowley said.

OOIDA leadership continues to monitor both proposals.

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