Transportation Conferees Continue Discussions Despite Public Discord

House and Senate committee staffs continue to discuss proposals and exchange language on a variety of issues as part of the conference committee negotiations to develop a compromise transportation reauthorization bill with the hope of getting a bill completed by the June 30 deadline. The majority of discussions have focused on project delivery and environmental streamlining reforms.

However, despite the progress in the discussions, the key principals on both sides of the Hill yesterday publicly called on the other side to compromise. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), joined by seven other Democratic senators, held a rally in front of the Capitol building, complete with a backdrop of ready-mix trucks and other pieces of construction equipment. The group of Senators urged House Republicans to get behind passage of a bill before the deadline. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) responded with a statement saying he's "disappointed in the fact that Senate negotiators have yet to move significantly on key House reform proposals." Neither side seems willing to cut deals that will put reforms in place for the next 15 months.

AGC joined 16 others groups in a joint letter to the 47 conference committee members calling on Congress to pass an adequately funded transportation bill by the end of the month. The letter pointed out that, "It is critical that this legislation be enacted by June 30, the date on which the programs will expire without further Congressional action. A six-month extension is not the way to go. This approach could further exacerbate the Highway Trust Fund's financial crisis and cause states to cut back on transportation investments during what should be the peak construction season."

In addition, the Transportation Construction Coalition, co-chaired by AGC, launched a radio ad campaign targeting the districts of four GOP congressmen on the conference committee. "With billions of dollars at stake, and thousands of good-paying jobs, it is time for Congress to take action," the ad says. "Will your congressman be part of the problem, or part of the transportation solution?" The ad urges constituents to contact their representatives immediately. Those targeted were Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio).

We are now at a critical time in the negotiations. If you have not contacted your senators and representatives in the past two weeks about the need to pass this bill now, please take the time to do so by going to AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

Associated General Contractors of America