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House and Senate conference members reach agreement on five-year transportation authorization

1 Dec 2015 | Posted by | 0 Comments | , , , ,

Conferees from the House and Senate have reached agreement on a final transportation reauthorization that will tap Federal Reserve surplus funds and other accounting maneuvers to cover the bill’s full cost over five years.

The 1,300-page Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) was filed with the House this afternoon and Speaker Paul Ryan said that he expects to have a final vote this week. In the Senate, Senator John Thune told Bloomberg this afternoon that his chamber would attempt to take the bill up later this week, but it might slip to next week. MAP-21’s current extension ends this Friday, December 4th, so if action is not taken this week, expect to see a very short extension. Amendments or changes are beyond unlikely after the conference agreement, so this bill is the final product that will be voted on by the House and Senate and signed by the President.

We’re still reading through the full text of the bill and will have a more detailed analysis and statement coming in the next few days.

As expected, the bill would revive the U.S. Export-Import bank and use Federal Reserve surplus funds and numerous other budget gimmicks to produce the tens of billions in offsets required to cover the difference between current transportation spending and what the gas tax is projected to bring in each year over the life of the bill. It’s the first multi-year transportation bill since SAFETEA-LU passed in 2005, and according to Senator James Inhofe, the bill contains $227 billion for highways and $61 billion for transit.

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