House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced a highway reauthorization bill June 3 (INVEST in America Act) that will be subject of much attention and advocacy efforts in the weeks ahead. After much advocacy from NATSO and our partners for more than a year, the bill would not amend provisions banning rest area commercialization, and would make it more difficult to install tolls at existing Interstates. It includes a number of provisions related to alternative fuel infrastructure and truck parking grants, that are less than optimal for fuel retailers, and which NATSO will continue to lobby. The Committee is expected to mark up the bill next week, and it could be on the House floor some time this summer.
The INVEST in America Act ultimately will need to be harmonized with Senate legislation that is decidedly less ambitious. The Senate package was a product of bipartisan negotiations, whereas the House bill was produced solely by Democrats; Republicans were not involved and have publicly lamented their sideline status. The odds of some type of infrastructure bill making it through Congress – potentially a small-scale package focused solely on transportation infrastructure – before the election this year is approximately 20-25 percent. The current highway bill expires on Sept. 30, necessitating either a short-term extension or more comprehensive reauthorization before the election.
NATSO members may log in to access a detailed analysis of the INVEST in America Act and the provisions of most importance to the truckstop and travel plaza industry.