Earlier today, the Senate passed H.R. 3996, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015. The bill, first approved by the House on November 16, extends the current surface transportation program through December 4. The extension is necessary because current program authority expires Friday, November 20, and Congress is not yet ready to pass a final reauthorization.
House and Senate Conferees and Congressional staff will work over the Thanksgiving holiday recess in order to finalize a compromise bill between the two chambers, which will then be considered quickly in both the House and Senate in early December. One more very short extension may be necessary after the Thanksgiving break in order to give both chambers time to consider and approve the measure. However, it appears Congressional leaders anticipate completing a bill before adjourning for the year.
Still left unresolved at this point is the length of the final bill and the corresponding funding levels. Some Members support a six-year bill at lower funding levels, while others support a shorter bill (five years) at slightly higher funding levels.
A summary of both the House and Senate proposals, as well as a comparison between the two motor carrier portions can be found in CVSA’s November 12, 2015 Legislative Update.