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1-9-2014 Federal Transportation Briefing

Surface Transportation Reauthorization
The 114th Congress convened for the first time this week, and surface transportation emerged as one of the top issues generating comment by leadership. This focus is largely due to a combination of factors, including the May 31 expiration of the current MAP-21 extension, the once-again looming shortfall of the Highway Trust Fund (likely to come up in late summer or early fall), and the current drop in gas prices. Also, the fact that one party holds a majority in both chambers increases the pressure on Congress to offer solutions for transportation funding issues.

Surface transportation funding options mentioned this week include an increase in the federal gas tax, corporate tax reform, and general fund transfers. Funding could be addressed as part of reauthorization, as a stand-alone bill, or as part of an overall tax reform package.

Regardless of the funding source, reauthorization of surface programs has moved to the forefront. Most recently, Senator Inhofe cited a MAP-21 replacement as one of his two priorities (the other being loosening EPA regulations). Senator Inhofe chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, which writes the highway section of the reauthorization proposal. He indicated that EPW would hold related hearings as soon as possible.

On the House side, Representative Shuster last month made a similar statement. As chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he described his agenda as reauthorization of surface, aviation and passenger rail legislation. The T&I Committee is responsible for the majority of the surface transportation proposal in the House.

Annual Appropriations/Debt Ceiling
Additional upcoming deadlines include an increase in the debt ceiling (which would likely become critical in late summer or early fall), and an appropriations measure or continuing resolution to fund federal government in FY 2016 (the current legislation lasts until Sept. 30, 2015).

Committee assignments in the 114th Congress
Many committee assignments have been announced, especially in the House, but others remain to be finalized. When formal announcements are completed, a listing will be provided of leadership and Iowa delegation assignments.

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Funding/authorization expiration dates:
Sept. 30, 2015 – transportation appropriations (HR 83, T-HUD)
Sept. 30, 2019 - water resource and development programs (WRRDA of 2014)
Sept. 30, 2013 - passenger rail and freight safety programs (PRIIA of 2008)
May 31, 2015 - surface transportation programs (MAP-21 extension, in HR 5021)
Sept. 30, 2015 - aviation programs (Air Transportation Modernization & Safety Improvement Act, 2012)

Read Entire Article:   1-9-2015 Federal Briefing