The House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on March 13 held its first hearing focused on reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund. The FAST Act, which provided $281 billion for federal surface transportation programs, expires on September 30, 2020.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), ranking member of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, said that he and Chairwoman Norton were working with House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.) to develop a long-term, bipartisan bill to reauthorize surface transportation programs.
“The Highway Trust Fund is not able to meet our surface transportation needs as they stand today, let alone our future needs,” Rep. Davis said in his opening statement. “Congress and the Administration must come together and find a way to shore-up the Highway Trust Fund, providing sustainable funding for our Nation’s surface transportation programs.”
Rep. DeFazio said the surface transportation reauthorization bill he's working on will bring the program into the 21st century. "It will be different than the repetitive things we've done building on the Eisenhower legacy, which was a great legacy but it's time to move on to more progressive things," he said.
Rep. DeFazio reminded lawmakers that a provision in the FAST Act states that "any additional real funds allocated by Congress will immediately flow through the policies in this bill," meaning that even before Congress passes a new surface reauthorization, they can decide to infuse more money into the old one. He also wants the bill to address climate issues and tackle new technologies.
Among the hearing's witnesses was Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of the City of San Antonio, Texas, tesifying on behalf of the National League of Cities (NLC). NLC has previously voiced strong opposition to commercializing rest areas.
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