By Lauren Schapker, vice president, legislative affairs, ARTBA
The Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee Feb. 25 focused on the need to find a long-term revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Senators also considered stakeholder perspectives on public transportation, and those witnesses also used the hearing to emphasize their concerns about the HTF.
Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) cautioned about the use of Federal Reserve dividends or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantee funds as means to fund a surface transportation reauthorization. Federal Reserve transfers constituted most of the funding used to shore up the Highway Trust Fund for the FAST Act.
Other senators reinforced the need to find a long-term solution for the HTF. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) challenged those who might disagree with a revenue proposal to come up with their own option that can receive bipartisan support.
Hearing witnesses urged continued support for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Capital Investment Grants, the main federal public transportation construction program. Stakeholders also discussed the importance of rural public transportation options and the importance of private funding as a supplement to federal investment.
The Senate Banking Committee is one of four committees responsible for crafting titles of any new surface transportation bill. The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee last July passed the highway portion of the bill, S. 2302, the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).