Cargo Business News

October 2011

Issue link: http://digital.nexsitepublishing.com/i/45814

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 11 of 31

12 Capitol Watch By Elaine NESSLE, Senior Associate, Blakey & Agnew, LLC Cash-strapped Congress forced to get creative Immediately upon returning from summer recess, both chambers of Congress were forced to focus on the swiftly- approaching September 30 expiration of the current surface transportation authorization. On September 16, a combined surface transportation, Federal Aviation Administration extension bill was signed into law, allowing both the House of Representatives and the Senate another six months to pass their respective long-term surface transportation authorization bills. In late September House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) announced that House leadership has permitted him to find additional resources for his six-year bill, "A New Direction." An outline of the bill released in July had bleak implications for transportation: a one-third cut in current funding. Due to House budget rules adopted in April of 2011, the bill would only provide funding at levels the Highway Trust Fund is projected to support: $35 billion per year. With permission from House leadership, the Chairman is now seeking creative funding sources to bring funding back up to the levels currently supported by SAFETEA-LU. Without naming a possible source, Chairman Mica said that he will be seeking an additional $15 billion per year in funding for this bill. The Chairman has, however, named one place that the money will not be coming from: an increased gas tax. "In late September House Transportation and " Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) announced that House leadership has permitted him to find additional resources for his six-year bill, "A New Direction. Many speculate that the House is considering tying the highway bill to the expansion of domestic oil and gas drilling, per remarks recently made by Speaker of the House John Boehner. During a September transportation stakeholders meeting, Chairman Mica stated that despite the March surface transportation extension expiration date, he would like to have the bill marked up by the end of the year. Waiting until March, he fears, will be too close to the 2012 elections. In the Senate, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), has been busily securing funding for her two-year surface transportation authorization, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). Also released in outline form in mid-July, Chairman Boxer's bill will maintain current funding levels provided in SAFETEA-LU, plus projected inflation. On several occasions Chairman Boxer has thanked her Senate Finance Committee counterpart, Max Baucus (D-MT), for identifying funding sources that will support her bill. Chairman Boxer has pleaded that Chairman Baucus call for a Finance Committee markup prior to the Super Committee's submission to Congress of recommended spending reductions and revenue increases. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is also a member of the Super Committee, so while it narrows the timeframe for him to complete a mark-up of the two year transportation reauthorization bill in the Finance Committee, it does mean that Chairman Baucus will likely keep these interests in mind when searching for spending reductions and revenue increases. Chairman Baucus is joined on the Committee by fellow transportation-investment champion Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The Committee's recommendations on reducing the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next ten years are due to Congress on November 23. Blakey & Agnew, LLC is a public affairs and communications consulting firm based in Washington, DC. October 2011 www.cargobusinessnews.com W

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cargo Business News - October 2011