House Passes First Long-Term Transportation Bill in a Decade

After days of debate on over 100 amendments, NSSGA welcomed the U.S. House of Representatives passage of a six-year surface transportation reauthorization by a strong bipartisan vote of 363-64. The historic measure provides as much as $339 billion in funding, and the last time a bill longer than two years passed Congress was 2005.

“America has waited a decade for Congress to pass a serious and long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure, and we are glad this day has finally come after 35 short-term funding extensions,” said Michael W. Johnson, NSSGA president and CEO. “Our industry produces the raw materials needed to build and improve our country’s road and bridges, and we are ready to get to work.”

NSSGA has worked tenaciously to push the House to act, especially after the U.S. Senate passed the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act on July 30, including arranging meetings with legislators and stakeholders, writing letters, making calls, holding fly-ins, activating grassroots and leading activities as part of the Highway Materials Group.

“This bill improves our infrastructure making it safer for our families and it spur economic growth by creating jobs for hard working Americans,” said Johnson. “Today’s historic action would not have been possible without the grassroots support of our members. We are glad to see that the message was received by Congress loud and clear, and today, Congress stood up for America’s infrastructure.”

The highway bill guarantees three years of funding, leaving Congress to find additional funds for the remaining three years. An amendment adopted Thursday morning could even add an additional $40 billion for those remaining years.

A conference committee, consisting of House and Senate members and chaired by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., will merge the two bills into one that both chambers must pass. Johnson said that the House and Senate should immediately appoint the committee members, as there are several policy differences that must be reconciled before the President can sign it into law. The current authorization for surface transportation projects expires on Nov. 20.

“We at NSSGA pledge to keep working with Congress until a long-term surface transportation reauthorization is signed into law,” Johnson said, “and we urge our aggregates industry grassroots volunteers to continue to join us in this effort.”

Amendments Update for Aggregates Industry

There were several amendments of note that passed or were rejected in the final House bill.

  • NSSGA welcomed an amendment from Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wisc., that improves the ability to transport aggregates. It increases the air-mile radius from 50 to 75 for the transportation of construction materials and equipment to satisfy the 24-hour reset period under Hours of Service rules.
  • An amendment from Reps. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, and Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., creating a task force to develop long-term funding solutions such as increasing the motor fuel user fee, was not considered.
  • NSSGA welcomed the defeat of a devolution amendment to transfer authority for construction projects to states and reduce the 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax by about 15 cents.
  • Though the highway bill also included an amendment to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, amendments to strip or reform the bank were not passed.

 

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