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Senate Approves DRIVE Act

On Thursday, the Senate passed the DRIVE Act, the chamber’s reauthorization proposal. The bill provides program authority for six years, but funding for only three, and includes a motor carrier title. Some changes have been made since the July 17 Legislative Update was sent. An updated summary can be found here. The bill contains a number of CVSA’s reauthorization priorities, as well as a handful of exemptions and other language CVSA will continue to push to have removed when the House and Senate conference their proposals.

Shortly after passing the longer-term bill, the Senate passed a House-proposed three-month extension of current highway programs. The legislation extends program authority through the end of October, and provides $8 billion in funds that will keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through mid-December.

The three-month extension was the result of a compromise between the House and Senate. While the House had already passed a five-month extension through mid-December and was prepared to leave town for the August recess, the Senate insisted on a shorter extension, given that they had passed a longer term bill.

Negotiations will continue behind the scenes over the August recess and into the fall session, when it is likely that the House will propose a bill of their own in order to have a negotiating point to work from with the Senate. Senate leaders have already indicated that changes to the Senate-passed bill are likely.

Policy is not the only issue that will likely slow the process down. Republicans in the House and Senate remain divided on how to fund a longer term bill. However, the Senate bill provides a good starting point and is a sign of some progress.