Surface transportation authorization bills were the focus of major action on Capitol Hill this week. Senate and House authorizers both settled on Feb. 2 as the date to begin work in the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I), while the House Ways
& Means Committee took drastic steps in a Friday markup removing the historic dedicated funding of public transportation through motor fuels tax receipts.
The House T&I Committee -- in a marathon markup that lasted 18 hours, extending into the early morning -- passed HR 7, the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, on a party line vote.
In contrast, earlier on Thursday, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) held a markup of a bipartisan bill that would authorize two-year funding for FTA programs at FY 2012 levels.
The most significant development occurred Friday morning when the House Ways & Means Committee approved on a party line vote the financing title to the bill, which ends the provision of the 2.86 cents currently dedicated to the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund, replacing it with undetermined funds.
APTA President Michael Melaniphy released a statement yesterday including the following passage: “On behalf of the 1,500 members of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Americans who take more than 10 billion public transit trips annually, we are strongly opposed to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee proposal to divert $25 billion in dedicated fuels tax revenues from the Mass Transit Account. This represents nearly 50 percent of the
federal investment in public transit authorized by the House surface transportation bill. This drastic change will clearly put public transportation projects at risk.” The full text of his statement can be found here.
Numerous organizations opposed the proposal, including AASHTO and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In addition, more than 600 organizations sent a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Ranking Member Sander M. Levin (D-MI), urging the committee to reject the bill and work to continue to fund public transit and highway programs through dedicated funding. Signatories include APTA, Transportation for America, AARP, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, health and
rural groups, and Departments of Transportation.
APTA will continue to to fight for dedicated funding as the bill advances. More legislative action is planned in the next two weeks by both the House and Senate.