Graphic: The process of passing the transportation billMay 17, 2012
By Stephen Lee Davis
As negotiations continue between the Senate’s bipartisan transportation bill and the House’s policy provisions, it’s a good time to look once again at the process of drafting and passing a transportation reauthorization and see where things currently stand. Fortunately, we have this useful graphic from our Transportation 101 book that shows a simple view of how things usually proceed — complete with a “you are here” marker, just like a helpful wayfinding sign on a street corner.
As you can see, we’re currently in the “conference committee” portion of the process, where a selected group of senators and representatives meet together to reconcile the differences between the two versions of their transportation bills passed by each chamber. In this case, that’s the Senate’s full, bipartisan, two-year MAP-21 bill, and the House’s extension of current policy and funding, with a few non-transportation-related policy riders they wanted to bring to the negotiating table.
The 14 senators and 33 representatives are meeting together regularly — the meetings are not public — to negotiate a final bill to send back to the House and the Senate for a final vote. The numbers of members by party are determined by the majority in each chamber, so there are more Republicans from the House, and more Democrats from the Senate.
As you can see from the graphic, once they finalize a bill that the conference votes to approve, it will go back for what should be the final vote in each chamber.
It’s still unclear if the House will be able to muster enough support to approve any bill, especially since they haven’t had enough votes up to this point to pass any transportation bill, choosing not to even bring HR 7 to the floor for a vote. Will the House vote for a final product that is composed mostly of the Senate’s bipartisan bill, even if it does include their preferred provisions to deregulate coal ash, approve Keystone XL and gut the environmental review process? Only time will tell.
Until then, we are continuing to weigh in with the conferees (and hope you’ll join us!) to urge them to do five important things in their final bill.