House and Senate Conference Continues on Highway and Transit Bill, Conference Report May Come This Week
House and Senate conferees hope to finalize an agreement on a multi-year surface transportation bill this week, as the December 4 expiration of current program authorizations quickly approaches. While the leaders of the reauthorization effort had hoped to release an outline of an agreement before the Thanksgiving recess began, they were unable to reach consensus. One significant hold-up of the final agreement seems to be continued negotiations over safety-related provisions for the trucking and rail industries, which some Democrats see as eroding transportation safety.
Negotiations among conferees have continued at the staff level, and an agreement is expected to be released be as soon as Monday, November 30. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has included possible consideration of the conference report on the House schedule this week. Even if conferees meet this ambitious schedule for producing a conference agreement, it is unlikely that the House and Senate will both pass the conference report by the December 4 deadline, necessitating another very short-term extension.
Adding to the busy legislative calendar, Congress is also negotiating an omnibus Federal spending bill, which must be completed by December 11 to prevent a government shutdown.
A group of Congressional Democrats and many transportation stakeholders have recently called on conferees to shorten the transportation authorization period from six years to five and use the offsets included in the House-passed bill to fully pay for all five years of authorizations at the Senate bill’s higher levels.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Thursday, December 3: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a markup of S.247, the “Expatriate Terrorist Act”, and S.1318, the “Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2015.”