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.