On Wednesday, the United States Senate passed a short-term surface transportation authorization extension by voice vote. This extends the authorization from October 29 through November 20, 2015. No additional revenue was required for this extension, and it passed by voice vote in both chambers of Congress. The legislation is expected to be signed by President Obama before the lapse in authorization occurs tomorrow at midnight.
Included in this bill was language which dealt with the December 31 deadline for implementation of PTC. This new proposal would extend the deadline for installation of PTC to December 31, 2018, allowing an additional three years to railroads to complete this process. Revised implementation plans are due within 90 days of enactment of this bill. At the end of this period, the Secretary would have the authority, on a case-by-case basis, to grant railroads up to an additional two years to complete the implementation of PTC.
For the full text of H.R. 3819, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015, please click here
Senate Confirms Sarah Feinberg as Administrator to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
Immediately following the voice vote on the surface transportation extension, the nomination of Sarah Feinberg to serve as Administrator of the FRA was brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote. This too was passed by a voice vote. Ms. Feinberg was nominated for this position by Secretary Anthony Foxx on January 9, 2015, after which she had been in an Acting-Administrator capacity. Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved her nomination by a vote of 19 – 1.
House Passes Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015
On Wednesday night, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015, negotiated by leaders of the House, Senate, and the White House. This deal, if passed by the Senate, would lift the debt ceiling until March 2017 as well as raise the budget caps for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 into FY 2017. In FY 2016, it would add an additional $50 billion in discretionary spending, and $30 billion in FY 2017 as well, with those funds equally split between defense and non-defense discretionary spending. These funds would then be included in the appropriations process going forward, most likely in an omnibus spending package for FY 2016. The White House also released a Statement of Administration Policy supporting the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015, leaving its only obstacle passage in the Senate. To view the Administration statement, please click here