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June 5, 2012

Re: Transportation Funding Conference Committee Headed for Roadblock?

Dear Mayor:

As reported in an earlier letter (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2012-0509-fed-trans.html), Conference Committee discussions on the future of Federal transportation policy began almost a month ago, on May 8. The nearly 50-member House and Senate Conference Committee continues to try to iron out differences on a two-year surface transportation bill, before the current extension expires on June 30. Organized into 10 working groups, Committee members are charged with finding middle ground between the Senate-passed bill, MAP-21 (S. 1813) and a House-passed measure that extends the current program through September 30.

The Senate’s Conferees are Senator Barbara Boxer (Calif.), who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senators Max Baucus (Mont.), Jay Rockefeller (W.V.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), James Inhofe (Okla.), David Vitter (La.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) and John Hoeven (N.D.).

Republican House Representatives named to the Committee include House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (Fla.), Don Young (Alaska), John Duncan (Tenn.), Bill Shuster (Penn.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.V.), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Larry Buschon (Ind.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Steve Southerland (Fla.), James Lankford (Okla.), Reid Ribble (Wis.), Fred Upton (Mich.), Ed Whitfield (Ky.), Doc Hastings (Wash.), Rob Bishop (Utah), Ralph Hall (Texas), Chip Cravaack (Minn.), Dave Camp (Mich.) and Patrick Tiberi (Ohio).

The 13 House Democrats on the Committee are Nick Rahall (W.V.), Peter DeFazio (Oregon), Jerry Costello (Ill.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Corrine Brown (Fla.), Elijah Cummings (Md.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Tim Bishop (N.Y.), Henry Waxman (Calif.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas), Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.).

On March 30, President Obama signed a 90-day extension of federal surface transportation program funding, after both houses of Congress approved the extension on March 29. The bill (HR 4281) allowed current surface transportation funding to continue through June 30, 2012. The legislation was the ninth short-term extension of surface transportation funding since the original authorization of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) expired on September 30, 2009.

It now appears that negotiations are not going well and lawmakers are unlikely to reach agreement on a multi year plan by the current June 30 deadline.

It was reported, last week, that Representative Paul Broun (GA) plans to seek a vote instructing House conferees to limit transportation spending to the funding available in the Highway Trust Fund. A vote is now expected on Tuesday. The motion would reduce transportation funding by at least 34%, similar to the House budget resolution, and a long-standing tenet of the House majority. That would conflict with the Senate passed bill which would fund transportation programs for two years at $109 billion, requiring a transfer of general revenues to supplement federal fuel taxes. The Senate passed bill, S 1813, MAP-21, would keep programs at current levels. In the past few weeks, House members have been submitting resolutions insisting that the House stand by its positions on the transportation conference – whether or not they have been passed by the House.

Also, last week House Majority Leader Eric Cantor released his list of legislation on the agenda for this summer which did not include the transportation bill. Again, current funding for the transportation bill expires on June 30 and another extension appears likely.

We will keep you posted. If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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