US Capital

Senate committee finds bipartisanship on new surface transportation bill

From Fleet Owner.

The road to a bipartisan mega infrastructure deal appears in worse condition than some of the highways and bridges an actual spending package would repair. But when it comes to a smaller spending package, Republicans and Democrats are finding common ground on how to replace the federal surface transportation reauthorization act that expires later this year.

Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C., are about $1.5 trillion apart on spending goals for President Joe Biden’s massive American Jobs Plan. If the two parties can’t find a compromise that includes at least 10 Senate Republicans, the Democrats could pass an even larger spending package on their own through the budget reconciliation process, which unlike most bills in the Senate, only needs a simple majority to pass. If all 50 senators in the Democrats’ caucus agree with an eventual plan, Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote.

While Republicans have focused their spending proposals on roads and bridges, the Biden-led White House wants an infrastructure bill that includes money that addresses climate change, paid family leave, waterways, rural broadband, and more. But separate from the Biden Jobs Plan is a need to reauthorize or rework Congress’ surface transportation law.

Over the weekend, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) released a bipartisan draft of a new surface transportation law—that would replace the existing law that expires in the fall—worth $303.5 billion. That would make it the largest surface transportation act in history as it is a 34% increase over the previous reauthorization bill, the FAST Act, which passed in 2015.

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