By Dave Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA
President Obama Nov. 19 signed legislation passed by the House and Senate earlier this week to extend the federal highway and public transportation programs through December 4. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) declared this would be the “last” short-term extension and cited the positive progress the House-Senate “conference committee” is making in reconciling the two-chamber’s multi-year surface transportation reauthorization proposals.
According to a schedule laid out by Shuster at a Nov. 18 meeting of negotiators, House and Senate staff will work to finalize the compromise legislation the week of Nov. 23 while members of Congress are on recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. The final measure would be released Nov. 30 and lawmakers in the House and Senate would have until the end of that week to act. While this is clearly an ambitious schedule, the fact that conference committee reports are not subject to amendment in either chamber means passage of a final surface transportation bill can occur much more rapidly than typical legislation. It should also not be overlooked that enactment of a multi-year bill is a priority for both the House and Senate leadership.
ARTBA will continue to push to secure the transportation construction industry’s priorities as the conference committee deliberations proceed and we will keep you apprised of further developments.