EPW Soon to Unveil Surface Transportation Bill

June 13, 2011

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee has indicated they may be prepared to release their highway portion of the Surface Transportation authorization bill as early as this week.

EPW Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Members James Inhofe (R-OK) announced on May 25 that they had reached agreement on several issues and that they were progressing on their bill. There still remain several issues that have yet to be resolved: funding totals; length of the authorization; financing and state distribution formulas.

AGC has learned that the tentative timing for movement on the EPW bill will be possible introduction as early as this week, followed by a Committee mark up before the July 4 recess. When a bill could come to the Senate floor for a vote remains to be seen. Since EPW only has jurisdiction over the highway part of the bill they would have to consolidate with the Senate Commerce (safety) and Banking (transit) Committees portions of the bill prior to any floor consideration and that may take some time. Another potential delay for the bill moving forward is funding. Senator Boxer is writing a bill at current funding levels. However, the Highway Trust Fund cannot support those levels, which means that the Senate Finance Committee needs to find the additional revenue without raising the gas tax.

In terms of the House, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is finishing up drafting their authorization bill but the timetable for moving the bill forward is unclear. What we do know about Chairman Mica’s bill is that it will be funded at levels that the Highway Trust Fund can sustain, which equate to approximately a 30 percent cut from current funding levels for highways and transit. The bill may include AGC supported policies to streamline the environmental review process and expedite project delivery.