House Approves Transportation Reauthorization Extension Through September
By a vote of 293-127, the House approved HR 4348, a 90-day extension of the surface transportation programs through the end of FY 2012, September 30, 2012. The intent of the legislation is to provide a vehicle to get to a conference with the Senate on a longer term transportation reauthorization bill. HR 4348 was amended on the House floor to include the environmental streamlining provisions from HR 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, the five year comprehensive transportation reauthorization bill that was reported from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee earlier this year but was lacking sufficient support for passage on its own. With the passage of HR 4348, a House-Senate conference with the Senate's two year surface transportation reauthorization bill MAP-21 (S. 1813) can now begin.
Also included in HR 4348 were several provisions not directly related to the highway and transit programs as follows:
- The AGC supported provision allowing approval of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
- The text of the AGC supported Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act that would, among other things, prevent EPA from defining fly ash as a hazardous waste, thereby, limiting its beneficial use.
- An AGC supported amendment guaranteeing that the total amount available for spending from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) each fiscal year would equal Trust Fund receipts as estimated by the President's budget for that year.
- The AGC supported RESTORE Act, which directs funds from Clean Water Act fines resulting from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to be used for infrastructure investments in Gulf coast states.
The Obama Administration issued a statement prior to the vote threatening to veto H.R. 4348 based on the inclusion of the Keystone XL. While AGC has consistently and unequivocally called for a long term transportation reauthorization bill with increased funding and significant program reforms, political realities have prevented that from happening. AGC supported the current strategy of passing H.R 4348 as a means to get to a conference with the Senate on S. 1813 to provide program continuity, certainty in funding levels for the next 15 months and program reforms.