On Friday, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee released the text of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015. The bill is the House companion to the Senate’s DRIVE Act, which was passed earlier this summer.
The Committee has scheduled a markup for the bill Thursday, October 22, at 10 am Eastern. During the markup, Members of the Committee will be able to offer amendments to the bill, before the Committee approves it and sends it to the full House for consideration. The bill has bipartisan support and is expected to be approved by the Committee, although some changes are possible during the markup.
Even if the Committee approves its bill this week, another short term extension of the highway program is likely necessary. Authority runs out on October 29 and House leaders have still not determined how to pay for a multiyear bill. This process has gotten even more complicated due to the ongoing race for Speaker of the House, following current Speaker Boehner’s announcement that he is stepping down from the position. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), who serves as Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, is reportedly considering running for the position, meaning any efforts by the Committee to find a long term funding source will be put on the back burner while he makes his decision. If he does run and is successful, Ryan will have to give up his seat as Chairman, which could further delay the Committee’s work.
An extension through December is likely, which would line up spending authority with funding. However, Congress’s list of ‘must do’ items for the fall is beginning to stack up, as the chamber must resolve the race for Speaker, deal with the looming debt ceiling debate, and address FY2016 funding when the current continuing resolution expires in December.
CVSA staff is currently reviewing the House proposal and will send out additional information and a summary of the bill once the review is complete.