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Congressional Committees Approve Reauthorization Bills
Three committees in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as one U.S. Senate committee approved bills related to transportation reauthorization this week.
- As mentioned in a previous Policy Update, the House Natural Resources Committee approved three bills to expand domestic energy production on February 1. More specifically, the bills would allow greater offshore energy production, open portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to energy development, and establish rules for the development of domestic oil shale resources. The revenues from this expansion in energy production would be directed to the Highway Trust Fund.
- On February 3, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act (AEIJA), the transportation reauthorization bill for federal highway, transit, safety, and other programs. The final vote of 29-24 approval came after a nearly 18-hour markup session, which included consideration of nearly 100 amendments. Notably, the Committee approved an amendment to delay a proposal that would increase truck weight limits on Interstate highways for three years. The Committee did not approve amendments to establish a national competitive freight infrastructure grant program or to restore the discretionary Projects of National and Regional Significance grant program.
- Also on February 3, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the financing portions of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act by a 20-17 vote. As described in this previous Policy Update, the bill would transform the current Mass Transit Account into the Alternative Transportation Account. It would transfer all FY2012 receipts from the Mass Transit Account to the Alternative Transportation Account, would terminate the current funding of the Account from fuels tax receipts, and would also appropriate $40 billion in general revenues to the Alternative Transportation Account. Current transportation user fees, including the federal gasoline tax, would remain at current rates and would be authorized through 2018. An amendment to maintain the current Mass Transit Account was rejected.
- In the Senate, the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee unanimously approved its public transportation reauthorization bill on February 2. This bill was discussed in an earlier Policy Update.
For more information, consult updates from AASHTO on the House and Senate transportation reauthorization bills. Also, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's website provides a full list of AEIJA amendments considered during the markup session.