House Republicans scale back highway bill

House Republicans decided on Feb. 23 to abandon their proposed change to delink transit funding from highway user fees, according to a Special Legislative Update report from the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) from the same day.

The decision came while Congress was in recess.

However, according to the NSSGA report, opposition to the change from both Republicans and Democrats “appears to have doomed the provision.”

The House introduced the proposed bill, H.R. 7, as a five-year bill, but it would be shortened since reclaiming highway user fees from mass transit was a major funding source for the bill.

The proposed funding source for mass transit, a change in the funding of federal pensions, was partially used as a “pay for” to extend the payroll tax holiday leaving a gaping hole in the bill, according to NSSGA.

The new length of the House bill is still unclear.

The project expediting and environmental streamlining aspects of the House bill remain unchanged and expanded energy production is still expected to be linked to infrastructure funding, according to NSSGA.

The association also noted in the special report that with the exception of the energy provisions, differences between the Senate bill and the House now seem to be shrinking significantly. Ultimately, this could lead to a simpler conference committee process once each chamber passes its legislation.

At the time of this post, the nation was still operating under current extension of the nation’s surface transportation bill — The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which set to expire on March 31. It was signed into law on Aug. 10, 2005, by President George W. Bush, and originally expired Sept. 31, 2009.