Congress has begun to work on a long-term plan to improve the nation's roads, bridges and transit systems. Tuesday, a House and Senate Conference Committee met for opening statements on a bill that provides a blueprint for revamping the nation's aging transportation system.
Last month, the House approved a three-month extension for highway and transit programs with a provision in the legislation to clear the way for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The bill, passed on April 18 on a 293-127 vote, now moves into negotiations with the Senate In the House-Senate conference committee meeting, committee members will work to reconcile differences between the three-month House measure and the $109-billion, two-year bill that the Senate approved in March.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) said, “This bill contains no tax increases, earmarks or new federal government programs, which may disappoint Democrats, but this legislation will help move the process forward in working to resolve differences with the Senate.”
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said after the bill's House vote, “The fact that the House voted to take a step forward on a surface transportation bill is encouraging." Sen. Boxer added, "as long as they follow through and immediately appoint conferees so that Congress can complete its work and get a bill to the President’s desk.”
Transportation has funding through June 30, due to the latest of nine short-term approvals enacted since September 2009.