By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA

White House and Democratic leaders failed to reach agreement on a large COVID-19 response bill after another week of negotiations. Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin continued their months-long debate over the price tag and policy details.

Funding for state and local governments, which could aid state departments of transportation (DOTs), remains a key area of disagreement.

While President Donald Trump urged Congress to “go big” on a stimulus package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced plans to vote the week of Oct 19 on a “targeted package” of $500 billion in aid, including additional aid for the Paycheck Protection Program. McConnell has not unveiled the legislation, but it’s expected to be similar to the package he proposed in September, which did not include aid for state and local governments.

Pelosi and Mnuchin say they will continue to talk in hopes of reaching an agreement. “At this point, getting something done before the election and executing on that will be difficult,” Mnuchin said.

ARTBA will continue its efforts to build support in Congress for dedicated aid to state DOTs, public transportation agencies, and airports, and to increase investment in transportation programs as it negotiates FY 2021 spending bills.