On Friday, the House and Senate voted to pass the Conference Report to H.R. 4348, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). Under the bill, federal highway, transit and other surface transportation programs will continue through Sept. 30, 2014, at current levels with some inflationary increases, providing states with more than two years of funding certainty. The bill was the product of extended negotiations and was passed with bipartisan support. The bill will consolidate the Elderly and Disabled program (Section 5310) which provides grants to nonprofits for transportation services and the New Freedom (Section 5317). The new program will fund activities designed to enhance mobility for seniors and people with disabilities. A variety of measures are being used to pay for the bill including changes to the Medicaid federal match provided to Louisiana. The Arc opposes reducing Medicaid funding and using it for non-Medicaid related spending.
The House and Senate have passed the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 (H.R. 4281), a three-month extension of the surface transportation programs. The spending authority for Highway Trust Fund programs would have expired March 31 without the extension, potentially halting road and transit projects throughout the country. Congress has had difficulty agreeing to a longer term extension of the programs.
The Senate is expected to continue debate this week on a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation bill. This bill would extend the highway and transit programs authorized by the surface transportation bill. The current temporary extension is set to expire March 31, 2012. The House is still trying to find a compromise over the funding levels that would garner enough support to pass a bill.
The Senate is expected to vote this week on a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation bill. This bill would extend the highway and transit programs authorized by the surface transportation bill. The current temporary extension is set to expire March 31, 2012. The House is still trying to find a compromise over the funding levels that would garner enough support to pass a bill.
The House and Senate are moving forward on bills to reauthorize the nation’s surface transportation law. A series of short term extensions have kept the highway and transit programs going while Congress debates a longer reauthorization. The House and Senate proposals differ in scope and costs, and have significant policy differences, making it unlikely that the bills could both be passed and reconciled before the short term extension expires at the end of the month.
After a very contentious mark up last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a 5 year, $260 billion bill that consolidates a number of programs, including the small disability programs that support nonprofits which provide transportation and the programs to improve accessibility. The House approach also makes financing changes that will de-link mass transit from a guaranteed funding stream, which is of great concern to people who use public transportation. The Senate is expected to consider its bipartisan, two year, $109 billion proposal this week. The full House of Representatives may also consider its proposal, though it faces opposition from the Democrats and conservatives in the Republican Party who oppose the spending level.
The Department of Justice settled several complaints against over the road transportation companies. Claudio’s Trips, a California corporation; El Lagunero, a Texas corporation; Transportes Rivas and Watson Charter Services, Illinois corporations, failed to have any accessible vehicles in their fleets. All of the companies agreed to make accessible transportation services available to people on the day and at the time and place requested.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is holding a hearing entitled “The Americans with Disabilities Act and Accessible Transportation: Challenges and Opportunities.” The hearing will be on Thursday, November 17th. For updated information check the committee website.
On Thursday, the Senate voted down two different transportation and infrastructure proposals. The Democratic plan (S. 1769) would have developed a new national infrastructure bank and provided additional funding for transportation projects. It was defeated 51-49. The alternative bill (S. 1786) was a two year extension of the highway and transit programs and it would repeal a number of environmental protection regulations and funding for pedestrian and bike pathways among other proposals. The vote on S. 1769 was part of Majority Leader Reid’s plan to bring individual pieces of President Obama’s jobs proposals to the floor for consideration.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is planning to mark up a 2 year reauthorization of the highway and transit bill despite the $12 billion gap between the $109 billion cost of the bill and the money the Highway Trust Fund is projected to take in through existing fuel taxes. Generally, highway and transit bills have a longer authorization period and in the past were bipartisan bills. The lack of agreement on how to fund the bill has held up consideration of more comprehensive bills. The Senate Finance Committee must still find a funding mechanism for the bill to advance.
The Department of Transportation published the final rule amending its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations to require intercity, commuter, and high-speed passenger railroads to ensure, at new and altered station platforms, that passengers with disabilities can get on and off any accessible car of the train. This long awaited rule requires passenger railroads, such as AMTRAK, to provide level-entry boarding at new or altered stations in which no track passing through the station and adjacent to platforms is shared with existing freight rail operations. For new or altered stations in which track passing through the station and adjacent to platforms is shared with existing freight rail operations, passenger railroads will be able to choose among a variety of means to meet a performance standard to ensure that passengers with disabilities can access each accessible train car that other passengers can board at the station.