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American Public Transportation Association

 House Passes Government Funding Resolution, Outlook Unclear

9/20/2013

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This morning, the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), H.J.Res.59, by a vote of 230-189, with 1 Republican voting against and 2 Democrats voting in-favor. The CR picks up at the end of the current Fiscal Year, on September 30, 2013, and provides funding to federal government programs through December 15, 2013.

However, the resolution faces an uncertain future as it moves to the Senate, as it contains language prohibiting funding for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) programs. The Senate Democratic majority will likely attempt to restore funding for the ACA, then pass the CR and send it back to the House for final passage.

With only a handful of days left prior to the expiration of the current Fiscal Year, both the Senate and House will need to work quickly to ensure government programs remain funded past September 30.

FTA and FHWA Publish NPRM on Categorical Exclusions

In a joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration proposed three new Categorical Exclusions and solicited comments on the rule. The comment period closes on November 18, 2013. To submit comments or to find additional documentation on the changes, click here.

FTA To Conduct Webinar on Bus Testing Facility

Next week, the Federal Transit Administration is hosting webinars on the new Bus Testing Facility pass/fail grading system. Details are found here, on FTA’s website.

Senate Banking Examines Superstorm Sandy Relief

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development held a hearing examining the state of recovery from Superstorm Sandy, with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff testifying. The hearing, Recovering From Superstorm Sandy: Assessing the Progress, Continuing Needs and Rebuilding Strategy, can be viewed via archived webcast on the Committee’s website. The written statements from Secretary Donovan and Administrator Rogoff are also available.

House Holds Hearing on Terrorism Insurance Program; Senate to Follow Next Week

Originally enacted after the September 11 attacks, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) provides for a public-private partnership, between the federal government and private insurance companies, in order to provide insurance coverage where the private marketplace is unable to do so. APTA submitted a letter of support to the House Financial Services Committee, in advance of its hearing on Thursday. The Senate Banking Committee scheduled a hearing on TRIA this coming Wednesday, September 25th.

EPW Hearing Explores MAP-21 Project Delivery Provisions

The Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works held a hearing Wednesday, titled: Implementing MAP-21's Provisions to Accelerate Project Delivery, which examined the MAP-21 provisions seeking to speed up project delivery for transportation projects. Representatives from USDOT, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Council on Environmental Quality testified to the affects MAP-21’s has had on the ability of agencies to deliver infrastructure improvements. The full webcast of the hearing is available on the EPW Committee’s website.

The Committee will also conduct a hearing on the condition of the Highway Trust Fund entitled, "The Need to Invest in America’s Infrastructure and Preserve Federal Transportation Funding" on Wednesday, September 25, 2013.

Positive Train Control Implementation Requires Flexibility

On September 16, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on positive train control (PTC) implementation and issued several recommendations including extending the deadline, approving alternative safety technologies and granting provisional certification of PTC systems. The report can be found here.

Survey Demonstrates Interest in, Need for Infrastructure Investment

In a joint survey released this week from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and Building America’s Future (BAF), NAM and BAF report on 400 manufacturers who are concerned about the state of roads, transit, airways and bridges. In a press statement headlined by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, NAM and BAF announce that the results of their survey indicate that many businesses view updating our outmoded infrastructure as an immediate requirement, in order to stay competitive in the global marketplace.

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