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League Submits Letters on Federal Transportation Reauthorization

February 24, 2012
The House and Senate transportation authorizing committees kicked off February with a flurry of action on legislation to reauthorize the nation's surface transportation law, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-Lu), with the House's Transportation and Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Ways and Means Committees and the Senate's Banking Housing and Urban Affairs and Finance Committees all completing markups on their respective portions of their chambers' transportation reauthorization packages.

With the bills completing committee markup, they are moving forward to each floor for continued amendments and debate. The League has submitted comment letters on both the Senate version (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21) and the House version, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act (AEIJA). The League letters are available on the League's website. Bills are expected to be amended in the upcoming weeks as floor debates and negotiations continue and the League will continue to post any new letters to its website.

There are significant differences between the House and Senate proposals. For instance, while both chambers' measures provide level funding for federal transportation programs, they differ on the length of their proposals and the method by which funding is arranged to support these programs.

The House package would provide $260 billion over five years and capture resources that are lacking from current gas tax receipts through future oil and gas production. The Senate package would provide $109 billion in funding over two years utilizing mostly traditional transportation funding mechanisms. These discrepancies will need to be resolved when House and Senate transportation leaders begin conference discussion on the two packages, and these negotiations are expected to be lengthy. As such, it is likely that Congress will need to pass another short-term extension of SAFETEA-Lu which is currently set to expire on March 31, 2012. This would be the ninth such extension.

The Senate is scheduled to continue debate on amendments when they return to Washington D.C. next week. The House has not announced a schedule for floor debate, but there are reports that House leadership is considering substantial changes to their current proposal. If these reports are true, floor debate could be significantly delayed.

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