On the way to a bicameral, bipartisan agreement on transportation bill

Two days ago marked the 1,000th day without a transportation bill, but now it looks like we may be getting somewhere – just days before the latest extension expires at the end of June. Nothing like a deadline to get Congress moving!

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) on June 27 announced  that House and Senate conferees are concluding a bicameral, bipartisan agreement on a major transportation bill.

“This agreement will help strengthen our nation’s construction industry and provide stability to highway, bridge and infrastructure projects across the count,” Mica said in an official statement.

The tentative agreement establishes federal highway, transit and highway safety policy and keeps programs at current funding levels through the end of fiscal year 2014, according to Mica. Notably, the transportation bill this bill doesn’t include any earmarks and does not increase taxes, Mica points out. The previous bill contained more than 6,300 earmarks.

“This is the jobs bill for the 112th Congress,” Mica added in a written statement. “The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is going bankrupt, and this paid-for measure provides necessary, real reform that focuses our limited resources on critical infrastructure needs. This legislation is specifically designed to reform and consolidate our transportation programs, streamline the bureaucratic project process, and give states more flexibility to save taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

If a majority of House and Senate conferees approve the conference report, both bodies are then expected to take up the measure before the end of the wee, just in time to beat the expiration of the current extension of transportation funding on June 30.