AASHTO Journal, 15 June 2012
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, along with 16 other national transportation advocacy and trade organizations, this week sent a letter to all members of the House and Senate Transportation Conference Committee that continued to press for passage of a transportation bill before the current extension expires.
“It is critical that this legislation be enacted by June 30, the date on which the programs will expire without further Congressional action,” the letter states. “A six-month extension is not the way to go. This approach could further exacerbate the Highway Trust Fund’s financial crisis and cause states to cut back on transportation investments during what should be the peak construction season.”
The full letter, which was sent on Wednesday, is available at bit.ly/061312confereeletter. Another letter was sent last week, before House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hinted at a six-month extension (see previous letter: bit.ly/060512letter).
Representatives from various transportation organizations also met up with multiple congressional leaders for a news conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, urging Congress to pass a transportation bill before the end of the month. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) discussed House leaders’ “lack of a sense of urgency” on passing a bill, while Senate leaders were ready to get a bill passed.
Shortly after the news conference, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fl.) issued a statement regarding the progress of the conference committee.
“I remain hopeful that we can reach a bicameral compromise with the Senate. However, I am disappointed in the fact that Senate negotiators have yet to move significantly on key House reform proposals,” Mica said. He then stated he would meet with House conferees to discuss the status of the transportation bill conference.
State transportation departments have been operating on short-term extensions of the nation’s last surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, since September 30, 2009. The current extension, which stands as the ninth, is set to expire June 30.
The Senate passed MAP-21 in mid-March, a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation authorization bill. The House passed its own bill in mid-April — HR 4348, a 90-day extension of the current surface transportation authorization that included Keystone Pipeline provisions, which Mica also pushed for again in his statement on Wednesday.