House and Senate negotiators on the long-awaited final Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill have reached an agreement. Details of the conference agreement are not yet available. Senate Aviation subcommittee chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-WVa) issued a statement which says the conference agreement is a bill lasting four fiscal years (the remainder of FY 2012 plus FYs 2013, 2014 and 2015) with, “Annual funding for FAA’s programs are consistent with the FY 2012 appropriated levels for the next four years.” The Airport Improvement Program has contract authority of $3.35 billion per year.
House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla), joined by T&I subcommittee chairmen, other committee members and stakeholder representatives, held a news conference today to formally announce the introduction of the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, five year surface transportation reauthorization legislation. The bill authorizes approximately $260 billion over five years to fund federal highway, transit and safety programs, maintaining current funding levels. The bill, which can be read here, would make significant reforms in the environmental review and approval process and give states more flexibility in the use of the funds. Some of the bill highlights include:
- Consolidates or eliminates nearly 70 federal programs
- Eliminates mandates that states spend highway funding on non-highway activities
- Allows states to set their own transportation priorities
- Delegates more project approval authority to states
- Condenses deadlines for federal agency project approvals
- Accelerates the approval process for projects in an existing right-of-way
- Encourages states to partner with the private sector to finance and build projects
- Streamlines the project delivery process and reduces regulatory burdens for rail projects
- Contains no earmarks
- Expands the Transportation Innovative Financing and Investment Act (TIFIA) program to $1 billion per year.
- Provides $2 billion in funding for states to capitalize State Infrastructure Banks.
- Allows states to toll new capacity on existing interstates.
The T&I Committee is scheduled to begin consideration of the transportation reauthorization portion of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act on Thursday, February 2, 2012. The bill does not contain the new Highway Trust Fund revenue sources necessary to maintain these funding levels. Revenue this is the responsibility of the Ways and Means Committee which is scheduled to meet this week as well. The energy portion of the legislation is expected to allow for increased oil and gas drilling with royalties from this activity directed to the Highway Trust Fund. Other energy related issues may also be addressed in this portion of the legislation, including building the Keystone oil pipeline. The energy issues will be address by the House Natural Resources Committee which meets tomorrow.
AGC’s CEO Stephen Sandherr participated in the news conference and issued a statement which said in part, “Chairman Mica has done tremendous work pulling together legislation that provides the kind of comprehensive reforms needed to restore Americans’ faith in the federal highway and transit program. In particular, the legislation will significantly accelerate transportation improvements across the country by cutting the needless red tape and regulatory redundancies that have forced projects to languish for years awaiting federal approval to move forward.”
For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.