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Senate Committee Set to Advance Surface Reauthorization

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The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee will consider legislation to reauthorize America’s surface transportation programs on Wednesday, May 26. The proposed legislation, introduced over the weekend, will commit $303 billion over five years to funding highway programs. This represents a nearly 35% increase in funding above FAST Act levels. The legislation includes dedicated funding for grant programs to repair and replace bridges; increases an off-system bridge set-aside in another grant program; provides funds to promote resiliency in federal projects and leaves out a number of harmful provisions found in last year’s House bill, including a ban on construction of new capacity, rollback of hours of service rules and an increase in minimum truck insurance.

The bill is bipartisan and was introduced by EPW Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Subcommittee on Transportation Infrastructure Chairman Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Ranking Member Kevin Cramer (R-ND). Barring last minute changes, the bill will be considered and passed by the EPW Committee on Wednesday, May 26.

The EPW bill is the first step in an involved process of reauthorizing the surface transportation programs. The Senate Banking Committee is responsible for producing a bill to reauthorize transit programs; the Senate Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over safety programs and the Senate Finance Committee is tasked with figuring out how to pay for it all (it held a hearing on this last week).

In 2019, the Senate EPW Committee passed America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act in July and no other Senate committee produced corresponding legislation; the House passed its version of a surface  reauthorization bill nearly a year later, in June 2020, and no agreement was reached before the expiration of the FAST Act, resulting in a one-year extension that expires September 30.

The committee action comes as bipartisan talks between Senate Republicans and the White House appear to be stalling. Senate Republicans, led by Senator Moore Capito countered President Biden’s $2.25 trillion proposal with a $600 billion plan that focused more narrowly on traditional infrastructure, including $300 billion for roads and bridges, $60 billion for transit and $20 billion for rail.

For more information, contact Andrew Tyrrell at


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