These are incredibly challenging times for transportation. Florida is facing a huge transportation funding crisis and our economic future is in serious jeopardy. An additional $23 billion is needed over the next ten years just to "maintain" current transportation conditions. That's why we're working so hard to be Your "Voice" for Transportation. But we need YOU! We've designed this Web site to be informative and user-friendly so YOU can join us in this important work. Together we can Keep Florida Moving!
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On Wednesday morning, the Senate Democratic leadership was able to get Unanimous Consent (UC) to bring the House-passed Highway Trust Fund (HTF)
bail-out bill, HR 5021, directly to the Senate floor for consideration. HR 5021 includes both a short-term extension of the MAP-21 authorization
to May 31, 2015 and a transfer of $10.8B from the General Fund to the HTF. The UC agreement permits debate on four floor amendments. Each amendment
and final passage of the bill requires 60 votes. The hope had been that the Senate would immediately begin to debate HR 5021, but instead leadership
opted to take up other legislation and consideration of the HTF bill is now likely not occur until Tuesday, July 29. This is three short days before
US DOT said it will start to delay and reduce reimbursements to state DOTs for highway expenditures and before the August 1 start of the five-week
congressional summer recess.
The first of two amendments that could get the needed 60 votes to pass is an amendment that will be offered by Senators Boxer (D-CA), Carper (D-DE), and Corker (R-TN) to reduce the short-term funding transfer to the HTF from $10.8B to $8B and shorten the MAP-21 authorization extension to December 19, 2014 in an effort to keep the pressure on Congress to act on longer-term funding and reauthorization, potentially in a post-election Lame Duck session. This amendment has the support of most of the transportation stakeholder groups. The second amendment will be offered by Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Hatch (R-UT) to substitute the offsets used to pay for the General Fund transfer that were agreed to by the Senate Finance Committee.
It is unlikely that an amendment on devolving the highway and transit programs to the states or an amendment exempting certain emergency projects from federal environmental permitting regulations will be able to garner the 60 votes needed to pass.
If the Senate does not agree to any of the four amendments but does pass the bill, it will go to the President to sign, which he is expected to do. If any of the Senate amendments pass, then the bill goes back to the House for consideration. Given the very short amount of time left before the start of the recess next Friday, it is likely that the House would hold the bill until the last minute, vote to strip out the Senate amendments, and send it back to the Senate where the Senate would be forced to accept the House-passed version or risk a shutdown of the highway and transit programs at the height of the summer construction season.