House hurdle cleared on road to next highway bill

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 11/5/2015

The second step toward a long-term highway bill was completed Thursday when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015.

The House version of the six-year bill was the focus of the House since Monday, Nov. 2, with 81 amendments teed up to be offered. The base bill passed out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Oct. 29.

The amended version of the STRR Act passed on Thursday by a vote of 363-64.

The Senate passed its highway bill, Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act or DRIVE Act, on July 30 by a vote of 65-34.

The passage of the House bill sets the stage for a conference committee of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, which will attempt to reconcile the two versions of a highway bill into one bill.

If the conference committee of the two chambers of Congress can reach an agreement, the bill would be presented to be the Senate and House for a final vote. If passed by both, it will be sent to the president to be signed into law.

Time is once again short for a long-term highway bill to be signed into law. The current highway funding law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21, has been extended twice. Its latest extension expires on Nov. 20.

The date for the conference committee to begin negotiations on the final bill had not been set as of press time.

“It’s been a long road to get here, as it usually is with long-term highway bills,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said. “That said, there are many very good, insightful provisions in the House version of the highway bill that will go a long way toward bettering the lives of truckers.”

As with previous highway bill conference committee negotiations, OOIDA’s Government Affairs team will closely monitor and ensure that the voice of the small-business trucker continues to be heard.

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