As we emphasized throughout our discussions during last week’s ARTBA National Convention in Philadelphia, the status of a highway/transit program reauthorization in the House of Representatives is incredibly fluid. Developments over the seven days since our meeting concluded clearly reinforce that message.
Even though House Republicans are currently tied up in knots over who will be the next speaker, that in no way means the chamber’s surface transportation program reauthorization efforts are on hold.
House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) announced October 2 that his negotiations with House and Senate Democrats to develop a plan to use one-time revenue from a new tax on the overseas profits of U.S.-based multinational corporations had reached an impasse. Ryan, who had consistently referred to the Senate-passed Highway Trust Fund revenue enhancements as a fall back option, this week began telling his House colleagues to “get used” to the Senate plan.
While the international tax efforts had the potential to generate substantially more revenue than the Senate bill and could have funded a full six years at higher investment levels, the proposal had significant resistance in the Senate. If the House is now planning to embrace the Senate revenue proposals, that removes a significant hurdle to completing a multi-year reauthorization bill during 2015 by putting both chambers on the same page regarding the Highway Trust Fund.
House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) is expected to announce shortly his committee will act October 28 on a six-year reauthorization proposal. The measure will reportedly have bipartisan support. Its approval in committee will mean the House’s priorities for the reauthorization have been established—a critical step in moving the legislative process forward.
In the numerous meetings we have had this week with T&I Committee and House GOP leadership staff, it has been clear that once the committee approves a proposal, the House will consider any and all options to begin reconciling its proposal with the Senate-passed reauthorization bill.
Perhaps history will repeat itself. As you may remember, in 2012, the T&I Committee approved a MAP-21 reauthorization bill, but it was never put before the full House for a likely contentious vote. Instead, it was deemed the House position and a three-month program extension bill became the vehicle to begin conference committee negotiations with the Senate on the Senate’s two-year bill, which had been approved by that body. The result was MAP-21.
Given that the current short-term highway/transit program extension expires October 29—the day after the anticipated T&I Committee mark-up—another short-term extension is likely.
What this all means is that NOW is the time to increase the pressure on all House members to help ensure they advance the reauthorization process this month! We need to keep the momentum going!
House members will be home next week for a previously scheduled recess. While they will no doubt hear a lot about the GOP leadership dysfunction, we need to make sure they hear about the need to complete action on a meaningful highway and public transportation investment bill!
The message to House members is simple:
- The Senate passed a multi-year reauthorization bill, NOW IT IS TIME FOR THE HOUSE TO ACT;
- Support the House T&I Committee’s efforts to advance a highway and transit program reauthorization bill THIS MONTH that increases surface transportation investment; and
- Tell your party’s leaders to find a way to begin reconciling the T&I Committee proposal with the Senate-passed reauthorization bill IN NOVEMBER.
Please contact ARTBA’s Dean Franks at email@example.com or 202-289-4434 with any questions or for assistance with scheduling a meeting with your House member next week.
Thank you for your continued support and engagement. Let’s get it done!