SAFETEA-LU, WRDA, FAA Legislative Status [Updated]

Status of transportation-related bills

SAFETEA-LU: extended until October 1, 2011.  The Senate and House are expected to publish draft bills in mid-July, and hold hearings in mid/late July. The House’s tentative summer legislative schedule does not include action on a transportation bill.  Four key Senators (two from each party) recently published a statement of principles guiding the drafting of the Senate bill. The authorization has been extended seven times since expiring in October 2009.

House Transportation Committee Republicans released a 22-page summary of their authorization proposal, a six-year bill funded at $230 billion – about $25 billion annually.  Detailed legislative text and a hearing are expected later this month. Senator Barbara Boxer has indicated she will introduce a bi-partisan two-year bill averaging $54.5 billion per year. The old SAFETEA-LU amounted to $244.1 billion over five years – or about $48.8 billion annually.

Reaction from interest groups ranged from mixed to negative. The proposal was harshly criticized by House Democrats, Senator Barbara Boxer (EPW Chair) and Senator Tim Johnson (Banking [Transit] Committee chair).

2012 Appropriations: The Senate Budget Committee Chair announced that work on the 2012 budget would be postponed until Congress & the White House reached agreement on the debt and spending issues.  House Subcommittee & Committee hearings are scheduled for late July.  Previously the House Budget committee adopted a target spending plan that would significantly reduce transportation spending.  See $7.7 Billion Cut In Transportation/Housing Funding Advances and the WSJ story “Democrats Unhurried in Work on Budget“.

Federal Aviation Administration authorization: Extended through July 22, 2011 (H.R. 2279) This is the 20th extension of the FAA bill, VISION 100, since it expired in 2007.

Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): Congress is working on a new bill, and the Senate is accepting project funding requests from members.  Few people believe a bill will pass before 2013. The last bill passed in 2007, and the previous bill passed seven years earlier.