House and Senate Move to Conference Transportation Bill >>

November 9th, 2015

House and Senate Move to Conference Transportation Bill

On November 5, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan, multi-year surface transportation bill to reauthorize and reform federal highway, transit, and highway safety programs. The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (the STRR Act) was approved by a vote of 363 to 64.

“I am very pleased, that after ten years of short-term band-aids and extensions, the House finally passed a bipartisan, six-year transportation bill,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

Passage of the STRR Act sets the stage for the creation of a Congressional Conference Committee to resolve the differences between the House legislation and the Senate transportation bill (H.R. 22, the vehicle for the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act)), which passed in July.

Conference committees are created after the House and the Senate pass different versions of a piece of legislation. The committee must negotiate a compromise bill that will be voted upon by both Chambers of Congress. A conference committee is usually composed of the senior Members of the respective House and Senate committees that originally considered the legislation. Each Congressional chamber determines its number of conferees; there is no requirement that the number of conferees from the two chambers be equal.

Leaders in the House have appointed 16 Republicans and 12 Democrats to sit in on the forthcoming negotiations with the Senate, including Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio. Senate leadership has not yet announced Committee appointments.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA) released a joint statement commending the passage of the STRR Act and noting that they hoped a consensus bill can get to the President’s desk by Thanksgiving.

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