Legislative Activity

House To Consider Transportation Bill on Floor

Both chambers passed a short-term extension last week, reauthorizing highway, highway safety, and transit programs through November 20. The House now turns to floor consideration of their six-year surface transportation bill on Wednesday.

The House appears determined to make productive use of the 22-day extension. On Monday and Tuesday, the House Rules Committee will consider over 170 filed amendments to the bill reported out of the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, along with another 80 amendments related to issues germane to the Senate DRIVE Act, including 23 amendments concerning the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. None of the filed amendments is a revenue title from the Ways and Means Committee. Depending on the nature of the Rule governing amendments permitted to be offered, floor consideration of the transportation bill could last longer than a day, however the Big Four agreement among T&I Committee and Highways and Transit Subcommittee leadership continues to hold, and any amendment they do not support is expected to fail.

Given this schedule for House floor action, conferencing the House and Senate bills before the November 20 deadline is possible. The chief Senate sponsors of the DRIVE Act, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA), are eager to conference the two bills, with Ranking Member Boxer asserting the House need not wait for the Way and Means Committee to produce a revenue title and can simply work from the Senate’s, while Chairman Inhofe has claimed the two chambers can reconcile their bills in a matter of hours.

Last week also saw the passage of a two-year budget agreement that included one of the same revenue sources as in the DRIVE Act: sale of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve. While the budget deal does not preclude the DRIVE Act from relying on this same revenue source, securing politically-palatable revenue offsets to fully fund the first three years of authorizations – a goal for both the House and Senate surface transportation bills – remains a significant task.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • None scheduled.