Take Two: House passes another SAFETEA-LU extension
The House of Representatives passed the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II, on April 18 by a vote of 293 to 127.
Included in the extension is language to transfer the authority to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project from the Department of State to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Under the provisions of the extension, FERC would be required to issue a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline within 30 days of receiving an application. If no action is taken, the application would be deemed approved after the 30-day period.
The bill formally known as (H.R. 4348) extends Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) – the current highway bill – through Sept. 30, 2012. Part I of this extension (H.R 4281) was passed March 29 month just two days before it was set to expire March 31. (For the article “Uncharted Road Ahead,” which goes more in-depth on the short-term reauthorizations of SAFETEA-LU, click here.)
The original bill expired on Sept. 30, 2009. SAFETEA-LU’s predecessor, The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), enacted on Aug. 10, 2005, underwent 12 extensions throughout a two-year period.
Toby Mack, president of Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), says that the uncertainty surrounding federal surface transportation programs has hurt construction contractors and suppliers.
“[It has] forced us to delay transportation improvements vital to the long-term health of the U.S. economy,” Mack said in a formal statement following the House vote. However, Mack says that AED “is pleased that the House has finally passed legislation to move the highway and transit reauthorization process forward.”
AED is calling for a multi-year bill that creates new user fees. The organization says this would “ensure the Highway Trust Fund’s long-term integrity [and would] increase investment to the levels necessary to improve the nation’s transportation system.”
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