House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Kicks Off the Reauthorization Process with Hearing
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met on Jan. 14 to hear testimony related to the reauthorization of the federal surface transportation program.
The most recently authorized surface transportation program, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, is set to expire Sept. 14, 2014. Without action by the end of FY 2014, the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) will run out of money. According to the Associated Equipment Distributors, a “Year Zero” scenario would mean no new federal highway investment in 2015, putting $41 billion in spending, $2.6 billion in highway-related equipment market activity, and 4,000 equipment distribution jobs at risk.
In his opening statement Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) provided a timetable for the bill.“In the coming months, we plan to hold more hearings and roundtable discussions to give stakeholders an opportunity to share their policy priorities and concerns,” said Schuster. “We hope to take Committee action in the late spring or early summer with the goal to be on the House floor before the August recess. This way there will be time to conference our bill with the Senate’s bill.”
Representatives from the National Governors Association, Caterpillar Inc., U.S. Conference of Mayors and Amalgamated Transit Union testified before the Committee at the initial hearing.
Stu Levenick, Caterpillar Inc. Group President with responsibility for Customer and Dealer Support, stressed infrastructure’s importance to global competitiveness.
“While other parts of the world are integrating and modernizing their infrastructure to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century, we are failing to act comprehensively and decisively,” said Levenick. “Our transportation system is the backbone of our economy. However, we are relying on investments made decades ago to sustain our growing and changing economy. We must renew our commitment to this system if we are to ensure our nation’s global competitiveness.”
The Honorable Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma & Chair, National Governors Association, explained the state’s need for certainty. “Over the years, previous surface transportation reauthorizations and their string of legislative extensions created uncertainty at the national level. This triggered necessary and pragmatic actions at the state level to maintain and develop our vital infrastructure, but, governors agree that successful state action does not justify federal disengagement or devolution.”
Governor Fallin also expressed concern over tax reforms that could be detrimental to infrastructure investment.
“There are risks facing infrastructure on other fronts such as federal tax reform. I am not referring to the gas tax debate, but risks to the well-known and mature $3.7 trillion tax-exempt bond market that helps finance infrastructure,” added Fallin.
It’s likely that everything will be on the table when it comes to financing federal infrastructure investment for the years ahead. Now is the time to speak with local representatives about what the Highway Trust Fund means to your business, your customers and your community.