Senate Appropriations Committee Reports FY 2012 DOT Funding Bill
This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee completed its work on the
DOT/THUD 2012 funding bill. State motor carrier safety grants (MCSAP and CDL) are funded at a slightly higher level than in the House bill.
The transportation funding bill for FY2012 is likely to be rolled into an omnibus funding bill that will hopefully be passed by both Chambers by November 18, the day on which the temporary Continuing Resolution (CR)* for all government agencies and departments will expire. In the interim, the House and Senate will conference the two bills and prepare them for final passage. At the very least, the funding limits (House bill) will reflect SAFETEA-LU authorized spending limits.
The Senate bill also contains a provision re-establishing and making permanent the truck weight exemption to 100,000 lbs. on the Interstate system in Maine and Vermont.
Senate Bill Addresses CVISN Funding Issue
The Appropriations bill also contains language holding the states harmless with respect to CVISN funds allocated to them beyond FMCSA’s statutory authority. The specific statutory language is as follows:
“Sec. 131. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, States receiving funds for core or expanded deployment activities under the Commercial Vehicle Identification Systems and Networks program pursuant to Sections 4101 (c) (4) and 4126 of Public Law 109-59 that did not meet award eligibility requirements set for the in section 4126; received grant amounts in excess of the maximum amounts specified in section 4126 (c)(2) or 4126(d)(3); or were awarded grants either prior to or after the expiration of the period of performance specified in a grant agreement need not repay such funds.” A copy of the Committee Report, attached, explains the purpose of the legislative language.
Late Breaking Development on a Long Term Reauthorization Bill
It was reported this morning that House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica told a group of transportation stakeholder groups on Thursday that the House Republican leadership has given him permission to seek additional revenues for the Highway Trust Fund above the excise tax receipt levels being deposited in the Trust Fund under existing law, as long as those additional revenues do not include an increase in the federal gasoline tax. This appears to indicate that the House Leadership has finally turned their attention towards the need to get a long-term surface transportation bill enacted during this 112th Congress (meaning sometime in 2012). This development does not guarantee a bill, but appears to offer a real possibility.
*As of this writing, Congress has not yet passed a CR that will fund the government from September 30 to November 18. The CR provides for a 1.4% across the board cut of all programs.