The four U.S. senators leading the transportation reauthorization debate this year said they have reached a bipartisan agreement that the bill will be long term and funded at current spending levels plus inflation.
The two Democrats and two Republicans said at an April 10 press conference that they would begin working on their draft as soon as they return from Easter recess.
“The reason the four of us are standing here is to send a strong signal to this country that we . . . have worked across party lines to act before the Highway Trust Fund cannot pay its bills,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the committee’s transportation and infrastructure subcommittee, said the bipartisan agreement among him, Boxer, ranking minority committee member David Vitter (R-La.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the subcommittee’s ranking minority member, marked an important moment to begin the debate on how to pay for transportation projects.
In a statement issued after the press conference, Carper referenced a focus on freight.
“I am pleased that we’ve agreed to revisit the emphasis on improving the efficiency, reliability and affordability of freight transportation across the country,” Carper said.
The Department of Transportation has released a draft freight network, but it doesn’t include ports, airports or rail facilities.
The Highway Trust Fund is expected to be insolvent by late summer, and the current transportation spending law, MAP-21, a two-year measure, expires at the end of September.
For additional coverage, see the April 14 issue of Transport Topics.