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.