Deadline Approaches for Transportation Conferees
As the June 30th deadline approaches House and Senate Conferees and their staff are diligently working to complete the surface transportation reauthorization. Negotiations hit a snag earlier this month and it appeared briefly that the process had stalled completely. House and Senate leaders spent a week or so playing the blame game and talks turned towards a long term extension. However, discussions this week have been much more productive and a tentative agreement between Boxer and Mica on the highway portion of the bill was announced, though no details were given.
Staff will work through the weekend converting that agreement into legislative language, while discussion turns to other portions of the bill, including the FMCSA safety title, transit and the critical funding piece. House and Senate leaders have indicated that once all the transportation pieces have been resolved, leadership will step in to reconcile the controversial issues, such as the coal ash and Keystone Pipeline provisions. Recently, Members and staff have been very tight lipped about the details of the negotiations, which may bode well for the bill, as it could be a sign that both sides want to get a bill completed and are staying out of the media for the time being.
Regardless of the progress made over the weekend, some extension is likely going to be necessary in order to complete a bill. Once all the issues are resolved, staff will still need to draft final language for review, which is a time consuming process. Then the bill will need to move through both the House and Senate for votes. With only a few legislative days left, and most of the major issues still unresolved as of Friday afternoon, completion by next Saturday seems highly unlikely.
House Committee Approves FY2013 Transportation Measure
Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY2013 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. The bill keeps FMCSA funding levels set at the FY2012 amounts, totaling $307 million. The bill has drawn a veto threat from the White House, which argues that the funding levels are too low and would cost jobs.
- MCSAP – $212,000,000
- General MCSAP – $168,000,000
- New Entrant – $29,000,000
- High Priority – $15,000,000
- CDL – $30,000,000
- Border – $32,000,000
- PRISM – $5,000,000
- CVISN – $25,000,000
- Safety Data – $3,000,000
In addition to the $308 million, the committee provides $16,000,000 for “border facility improvements and information technology modernization efforts for FMCSA operations and programs.”
The bill also contains a vehicle weight exemption for a portion of Highway 41 in Wisconsin, which will soon be re-designated as interstate lane miles. The exemption grandfathers in any vehicles currently operating over the federal limit when the change takes place. As a compromise to the exemption, which saw opposition, the Committee agreed to include the Size & Weight study language from S.1813 in the appropriation measure.