The U.S. Senate approved a transportation bill, S. 1813, known as MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) on March 14 which according to supporters, gives states greater spending flexibility, allows the government to set minimum safety standards for subways, and buys time to find a funding solution for a system that has been close bankruptcy.
The $109 billion bill was approved 17 days before funding and authority to collect the gas tax that support it are due to expire, according to several news reports.
Highlights of the bill include:
- Reauthorizes the Federal-aid highway program at the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline level—equal to current funding levels plus inflation—for two fiscal years.
- Consolidates the number of Federal programs by two-thirds, from about 90 programs down to less than 30, to focus resources on key national goals and reduce duplicative programs.
- Eliminates earmarks.
- Expedites project delivery while protecting the environment.
- Creates a new title called “America Fast Forward,” which strengthens the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Program (TIFIA) program to leverage federal dollars further than they have been stretched before.
- Consolidates certain programs into a focused freight program to improve the movement of goods.
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater issued the following statement congratulating the U.S. Senate on its passage of S. 1813.
“AEM and its more than 870 member companies, their tens of thousands of employees, and the national grassroots I Make America campaign thank the U.S. Senate for working together in a bipartisan way to pass this critical two-year reauthorization of the highway bill. Passed by a resounding bipartisan vote of 74 to 22, S. 1813 reforms the way highway programs are administered, allowing for quicker and more efficient project approval, and provides a stable source of surface transportation funding, creating the certainty state departments of transportation need to plan, and American businesses need to invest, hire and grow.
We especially commend Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sen. James Inhofe, the committee's ranking Republican, for their persistence, dedication and commitment to the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that has resulted in this well-crafted legislation.
There is no single piece of legislation pending before Congress that will do more to immediately create American jobs and sharpen our global competitiveness. Now that the Senate has acted so decisively and by such a wide bipartisan margin, the finish line is in sight, and AEM calls on the House to move immediately to the highway bill when it returns to session next week. Only 18 days remain until the current program extension expires on March 31st. The House must follow the Senate's example, pass this legislation, and get America moving again.”