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Highway Bill Prospects Suddenly Improve

Major bicameral progress has been reported over the past 48 hours on the highway sections of the reauthorization bill.  After a leadership meeting that included House Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid, intensive negotiations commenced between Conference Committee Chairman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.) and Vice Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.).  It appears that resolution (in-principle) of some of the most contentious transportation provisions has occurred, including environmental streamlining and funding formulas.  Congressional staff must now attempt to write the revised legislation based on their interpretation of what their bosses have agreed to.  The devil is always in the details.

Non-highway infrastructure titles such as energy, vehicle safety, behavioral safety, revenue and transit still require negotiations and require the involvement of the particular chairmen in charge of those titles.  Among these provisions, House Energy and Senate Commerce Committee titles are considered to be the most contentious.

While Boxer and Mica are not publicly discussing any extension of SAFETEA-LU beyond June 30th, it is highly likely that an extension will be needed. If negotiations seem to be faltering it is likely that the extension will be longer – as much as six months.  However, if progress continues to be made, the extension will be short enough to pass a final bill in July.

We’ll keep our members posted!

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