Congress Passes Three Month Extension of Transportation Programs >>

July 31st, 2015

CONGRESS PASSES THREE MONTH EXTENSION OF TRANSPORTATION PROGRAMS

On Wednesday, the House passed a 3-month extension of transportation programs by a vote of 385 to 34 until October 29th just days before funding expires. The House then adjourned for the August recess, forcing the Senate to accept the 3-month extension so as not to interrupt funding for transportation projects. Today, the Senate passed the House’s 3-month extension by a vote of 91 to 4. However, the Senate also passed H.R. 22 today, the legislative vehicle for the DRIVE Act, by a vote of 65 to 34, which would reauthorize transportation programs for 6 years although only 3 years are currently funded. The 3-month extension sets up another deadline for Congress to act on transportation funding this fall. Given the limited number of legislative working days in September and October and the many other issues that Congress will have to deal with including Appropriations, there will be limited time to work out an agreement between the House and Senate on a long-term reauthorization before funding expires again.

The Senate Transportation Bill (H.R. 22) did address some of the provisions from Chairman Barrasso’s Tribal Infrastructure and Roads Enhancement and Safety Act (TIRES Act). HR 22 significantly increases funding for the Tribal Transportation Program, including an increase of $15M for FY 16 and $10M increases in subsequent years for a total of $515M in FY 2021. In addition, the administrative fees cap was lowered from 6 percent to 5 percent. The bill also increases the tribal bridges funding set aside from 2 percent to 3 percent. Lastly, the bill creates a Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program that would provide funding for large projects that exceed $25M with preference for projects that exceed $50M.

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