By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA 

Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) are scheduled to move July 30 a bipartisan bill, entitled the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), out of their committee.  ATIA would authorize $287 billion in state highway spending authority from Fiscal Years 2021 through 2025.

ARTBA staff has attended multiple briefings with EPW committee staff, who shared some details of the legislation. It includes:

  • Of the $287 billion in budget authority, 90 percent will be provided to the states via formula;
  • A new $6 billion bridge program would be funded by a mix of Highway Trust Fund and General Fund revenues;
  • New climate change and safety incentivization programs;
  • Additional streamlining provisions, including the codification of “One Federal Decision”, the Trump administration executive order requiring all agencies to work together on a single decision for environmental project reviews;
  • Resources to build alternative fuel fueling stations along identified corridors;

The EPW committee, which has jurisdiction over most highway programs, is the first in either the House or Senate to move forward on reauthorizing the 2015 FAST Act surface transportation law, which expires Sept. 30, 2020.

ARTBA commends Barrasso and Carper for working together to begin the process of getting a new law enacted on time and for calling on the legislation to be paid for by users.  Carper is also a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has ultimate jurisdiction over how the bill is paid for. The committee will need to raise at least $80 billion, but probably more, to bridge the gap between current projected dedicated revenues and spending levels in the five-year EPW bill.

There is no active reauthorization legislation in the House, which has recessed until early September.   However, the last two reauthorization laws (MAP 21 and the FAST Act) began with the EPW Committee passing their portion of the work first, followed by other Senate and House committees.

ARTBA will provide a more detailed analysis of the legislation once the bill is publicly released the week of July 29.