THIS JUST IN FROM CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY . . .
CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS – TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
Feb. 23, 2012 – 4:13 p.m.
House GOP Drops Long-Term Transportation Bill, Changes to Transit Funding
By Kathryn A. Wolfe, CQ Staff
House Republicans will abandon their five-year, $260 billion surface transportation authorization and try instead to pass a shorter bill that drops changes to transit funding that have drawn strong opposition, including from within their own party.
According to a senior House GOP aide, the House bill will be shorter than the bill (HR 7) that was supposed to move to the House floor next week. How much shorter is unclear; the aide said it would still “provide plenty of time for a new Congress and new president to enact a long-term reauthorization.”
The aide also said the changes to transit funding that the bill had originally contained — primarily, getting rid of its funding link to the Highway Trust Fund — will be “postponed.”
Additionally, since the bill’s duration will be shorter, funding may be reduced below current levels. This could potentially help the GOP deal with the fact that $15.5 billion worth of the bulk of the pension changes they had planned to use to offset the bill’s spending are now gone.
The revamped bill will retain such provisions as project expediting and environmental streamlining. Additionally, the bill is expected to continue to link infrastructure funding to an expansion of energy production. Procedurally, the aide said the truncated surface transportation bill is expected to be attached to the energy production bill the House passed last week (HR 3408).
“Leaders are working with Chairman Mica and other members to determine the specific path forward,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, in a reference to House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John L. Mica, R-Fla.
Source: CQ Today Online News
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