Transportation Reauthorization

FAST Act 

Background

On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act into law.  The five-year (through FY 2020), $305-billion bill, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Friday, December 3, 2015, replaces the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act (a two-year measure enacted in July 2012) and followed by a series of short-term funding "patches" over the course of almost 18 months to keep transportation funding flowing while Congress attempted to frame and agree upon a long-term bill.  The FAST Act emerged, with bipartisan support, from the bicameral Conference Committee established to resolve differences between separate House- and Senate-approved bills.   Although it falls short of the spending level recommended by the Administration, the President deemed it a "commonsense compromise."

Although the breadth of any transportation reautorization legislation is vast there are several components that relate to air quality. Once such component is the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program – first established in 1991 – which is the only federal funding program dedicated to addressing the impact of the transportation sector on air quality. This program - authorized at about $12 billion over five years under the FAST Act - is intended to provide financial support for projects that contribute to air quality improvements and provide congestion relief in nonattainment and maintenance areas for ozone, carbon monoxide and/or particulate matter; states that have no nonattainment or maintenance areas still receive a minimum apportionment of CMAQ funding to be used either for air quality projects or flexible spending.  Section 1114 of the FAST Act, adds some provisions to the CMAQ program including providing that “the most cost-effective projects to reduce emissions from port-related landside nonroad and on-road equipment that is operated within the boundaries of a PM2.5 nonattainment and maintenance area” are made eligible for CMAQ funding and that PM2.5 areas are allowed to give funding priority to the purchase of such equipment.  The bill also exempts some rural PM2.5 nonattainment and maintenance areas from the existing requirement that a portion of CMAQ funds be set aside for PM2.5 emission reduction projects.  

 

Key Actions

December 4, 2015 - President Obama signed H.R. 22, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, into law.  The new law authorizes surface transportation funding through FY 2020.

December 3, 2015 - The House and Senate each voted to pass H.R. 22, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.  The FAST Act is a five-year, $305-billion bill that emerged from the House-Senate Conference Committee convened to resolve difference between separate House- and Senate-approved bills.

November 16-20, 2015 - Another short-term transportation funding patch was put into place, pushing the deadline for action on a long-term transportation reauthorization bill to December 4, 2015.  The House passed H.R. 3996, the Surface Transportation Extension Act, Part II, on November 16, 2015.  The Senate followed suit on November 19, 2015.  The President signed the measure into law on November 20, 2015.

October 29, 2015 -  H.R. 3819, the Surface Transportation Extension Act was presented to the President for signature.  The measure extends funding for highway and transit programs for three additional weeks, until November 20, 2015.

October 28, 2015 - The Senate approved H.R. 3819, the Surface Transportation Extension Act (passed by the House the day before), to further extend funding for highway and transit programs until November 20, 2015.

October 27, 2015 - The House approved H.R. 3819, the Surface Transportation Extension Act, to further extend funding for highway and transit programs until November 20, 2015.

October 22, 2015 - The House Tranportation and Infrastructure Commkittee marked up and approved the H.R. 3763, STRR Act, by unanimous vice vote.

October 16, 2015 – House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced H.R. 3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act of 2015, a six-year, $325-billion reauthorization bill.   The Chairman also released a 14-page summary of the 540-page bill.  

July 31, 2015 – The President signed H.R. 3236 into law, thus providing yet another short-term funding patch for highway and transit programs - this time until October 29, 2015.

July 30, 2015 – The Senate, by a vote of 91 to 4, approved H.R. 3236, the House bill extending funding for highways and transit until October 29, 2015.

July 30, 2015 – The Senate, by a vote of 65 to 34, passed  S. 1647 – the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act - a bipartisan six-year reauthorization bill unanimously approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on June 24, 2015.

July 29, 2015 – The House passed H.R. 3236, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015. by a vote of 385 to 34.  The bill extends authorizaton for highway and transit programs through October 29, 2015.  Earlier this month (July 15, 2015), House passed a H.R. 3038, provdiding for a five -month extension but now approved a shorter stopgap measure to demonstrate to the Senate that the chamber will focus on a multi-year bill upon return from the August recess.

July 19, 2015 – Rep. Pete DeFazio (R-OR) introduced, H.R. 2410, the Adminisration's GROW AMERICA Act, in the House.

July 15, 2015 – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released its Committee Report on H.R. 1647, the DRIVE Act.

July 15, 2015 – The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed S. 1732 by a vote of 13 to 11. The bill, introduced by Committee Chair John Thune (R-SD), includes a four-year reauthorization plan for Amtrak and would also require the Department of Transportation to establish a “coordinated” permitting process with other agencies for transportation projects that require an Environmental Impact Statement.  S. 1732 is intended for inclusion in a comprehensive long-term surface transportation bill.  

July 15. 2015 – In a Statement of Administration Policy, the White House acknowledges “the unfortunate reality” that there is a need for another short-term extension due to “inaction” by Congress: “While the country cannot continue to rely on short-term patches as an approach to funding the Nation’s infrastructure, the Administration supports passage of H.R. 3038 to give the House and Senate the necessary time to complete work on a long-term bill this year that increases investment to meet the Nation’s infrastructure needs.”

July 15, 2015 – The House passed H.R. 3038 – the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015 – by a vote of 312-119 to authorize and finance highway and transit programs through December 18, 2015.  The $8-billion measure, introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), would be paid for by “provisions that would improve tax compliance and prevent people from underpaying obligations by understating their tax liability” (about $5 billion) and by “reduced spending” (about $3 billion).

June 24, 2015 – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved, by a unanimous vote, S. 1647 – the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act - a bipartisan six-year reauthorization bill introduced by EPW Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Committee Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Tom Carper (D-DE).  Among other things, the bill would amend the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program by making diesel retrofits for nonroad vehicles and engines used in port-related freight operations eligible for CMAQ funding and allowing PM2.5 areas to give these purchases priority, and changing current language on projects (including diesel retrofits) that are given priority in PM2.5 areas to apply to those projects that “reduce directly emitted PM2.5” rather than those that "are proven to reduce PM2.5."  

May 29, 2015 – The President signed into law H.R. 2353, to extend spending authority for highway and transit programs under MAP-21 until July 31, 2015.  The measeure was approved by the House on May 21, 2015 and by the Senate on May 23, 2015.  This action was taken because the previous short-term stop-gap measure was due to expire on May 31, 2015.

March 30, 2015 – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent to Congress the Administration's proposed surface transportation reauthorization bill.  The six-year (2016 through 2021), $478-billion bill – the Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America (GROW AMERICA) Act – would increase investment in surface transportation by 45 percent.

February 17-20, 2015 – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx conducted the GROW AMERICA Express tour to highlight the importance of investing in the nation's infrastructure and to encourage Congress to act on a longterm surface transportation bill.  The President introduced the GROW AMERICA Act in April 2014 and in his recent FY 2016 budget request extended the timeframe of the bill to six years and the funding for the bill accordingly.

February 11, 2015 – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing to kick off its initiative to develop a new surface transportation reauthorization bill.  The sole witness was Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.  

January 28, 2015 – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee convened its first hearing of the 114th Congress, taking testimony on the need for federal transportation infrastructure investiments and a longterm reauthorization of MAP-21.

October 20, 2014 – At its Fall Membership Meeting, the NACAA membership approved the NACAA Principles on Surface Transportation Reauthorization Legislation.

August 8, 2014 – The President signed H.R. 5021 into law. 

July 31, 2014 – After first rejecting the H.R. 5021 – the House bill to extend funding for the Highway Trust Fund by $10.8 million through May 2015 – in favor of a bi-partisan measure (adopted 79 to 18) to direct about $8 billion to the Fund through mid-December with the intention of prompting congressional action on a long-term comprehensive surface transportation bill following the mid-term election in November, the Senate ultimately adopted H.R. 5021 by a vote of 81 to 13.  In the interim, the House rejected the Senate-approved measure by a vote of 272 to 150.

July 15, 2014 – Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, issued a statement denouncing House passage of H.R. 5021, which she characterized as "kick[ing] the can down the road" rather than taking action on a long-term transportation solution.  Senator Boxer supports a "patch" through December 2014 that would allow consideration of a long-term bill this Congress.

July 15, 2014 – The House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 367 to 55, a bill to provide a short-term fix to the problem of the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.  H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, would temporarily extend $10.8 bilion in funding for the Highway Trust Fund through May 2015 but does not address the much larger issue the October 1, 2014 expiration date for MAP-21, the current comprehensive surface transportation law. 

May 15, 2014 – The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously approved a bi-partisan bill to reauthorize federal surface transportation programs. S. 2322, the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act, was introduced Monday by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), EPW Committee Chair; David Vitter (R-LA), EPW Committee Ranking Member; Tom Carper (D-DE), EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman; and John Barrasso (R-WY), EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Ranking Member.  The six-year bill reauthorizes transportation programs “at current funding plus inflation.”  The EPW Committee has also provided a summary of the bill.

April 29, 2014 - The Obama Administration sent to Congress a 350-page legislative proposal for reauthorizing our nation’s surface transportation law.  The Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America Act – the GROW AMERICA Act – is a four-year, $302 billion proposal to replace the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), signed by President Obama on July 6, 2012 and set to expire on October 1, 2014. 

March 27, 2014 – Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing entitled, “MAP-21 Reauthorization: State and Local Perspectives on Transportation Priorities and Funding.” The Committee received testimony from state transportation agencies, local planning agencies, mayors and other local officials.

February 26, 2014 – President Obama announced his vision for 21st Century transportation infrastructure, which includes a four-year, $302 billion transportation reauthorization bill to be proposed in spring 2014.

January 14, 2014 – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing entitled, “Building the Foundation for Surface Transportation Reauthorization.” The Committee received testimony from representatives of the National Governors Association Caterpillar, Inc., the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Additional Information