Both the House and Senate authorizing committees are moving forward on surface transportation reauthorization. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (House T&I Committee) is actively drafting its bill and Committee Chairman DeFazio has stated that he intends to move forward in April. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (Senate Banking Committee) held a hearing earlier this week on surface transportation reauthorization. Both the House T&I Committee and the Senate Banking Committee have scheduled additional March hearings and staff roundtables to solicit input on surface transportation reauthorization.
The House and Senate appropriations committees are also moving forward with the appropriations bills, including the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill. The House and Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittees are currently holding hearings with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and modal administrations.
We have a critical opportunity to help make the case for increased investment in public transit and passenger rail and it is more important than ever for APTA members to come to the APTA Legislative Conference (March 15-17). This year’s Legislative Conference features an incredible program that includes:
Keynote Speaker Norah O’Donnell, Anchor for CBS Evening News;
- Mike Murphy, Political Strategist, Political Analyst for NBC News, and former Columnist, TIME;
- K. Jane Williams, Acting Administrator, Federal Transit Administration (FTA);
- Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chairwoman, House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit;
- Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works;
- Advocacy training from former Members of Congress;
- Authorizing Committee staffs of the House T&I Committee and Senate Banking Committee;
- Appropriations Committee staffs of the Senate and House THUD Appropriations Subcommittees; and
CALL TO ACTION
Sign Up for the APTA Legislative Conference!
To register for the Legislative Conference, please click here.
APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas Testifies Before Senate Banking Committee on Surface Transportation Reauthorization
On February 25, APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas testified before the Senate Banking Committee at a hearing entitled “Surface Transportation Reauthorization: Public Transportation Stakeholders’ Perspectives“. In his testimony, Mr. Skoutelas spoke of the important role public transportation plays in connecting people to opportunity and emphasized the need for robust transit funding in the next surface transportation authorization bill. The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO also participated.
APTA Submits Written Testimony on Commuter Rail Grade-Crossing Safety
On February 5, the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials held a hearing entitled “Tracking Toward Zero: Improving Grade Crossing Safety and Addressing Community Concerns“. APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas submitted testimony for the record. In his testimony, Mr. Skoutelas discussed the need for increased funding to support grade-crossing safety and reduce trespassing on commuter railroad facilities.
To read APTA’s testimony, please click here.
House T&I Committee Marks up FY 2021 Budget Views and Estimates
On February 26, the House T&I Committee marked up its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Views and Estimates. Each standing committee of the House of Representatives must submit its “Views and Estimates” to the House Budget Committee, to help in preparation of the annual congressional budget resolution. This document serves as the T&I Committee’s views on the President’s Budget request and details the Committee’s budget priorities for the year.
Regarding surface transportation, the Budget Views and Estimates state:
The Committee intends to develop a long-term, bipartisan bill that provides a significant increase in investment to meet the documented needs of the Nation’s surface transportation network in a way that creates jobs, including family-wage jobs in the U.S., reduces emissions, bottlenecks, and congestion, and strengthens the condition, performance, and safety of our transportation facilities.
The Committee also looks forward to continuing to work with other Committees of jurisdiction to address the challenges facing the Highway Trust Fund to ensure that there is a sustainable revenue stream in place to support enacting a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill.
The Committee adopted the Budget Views and Estimates unanimously by voice vote.
To view the FY 2021 Budget Views and Estimates of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, please click here.
Upcoming Hearings and Roundtables
On March 4, the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials will hold a hearing entitled “Funding a Robust Freight and Passenger Rail Network“. The hearing will discuss the benefits of both freight and passenger rail, examine the current state of the network, and address the need for continued investment through federal programs.
On March 5, the Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Threats Posed by State-Owned and State-Supported Enterprises to Public Transportation“. For more details on the hearing, please click here. This hearing comes on the heels of a January 31, 2020 letter from the Senate Banking Committee and House T&I Committee leaders to Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao urging DOT to provide information to FTA grant recipients about changes to procurement policy made by Section 7613 of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). To view the letter, please click here. In addition, on February 13, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter to Secretary Chao regarding this issue. To view the letter, please click here.
Section 7613 prohibits the use of federal public transit funding to procure bus and rail rolling stock from an entity that is incorporated in or has manufacturing facilities in the United States and “is owned or controlled by, is a subsidiary of, or is otherwise related legally or financially to a corporation based in” China. For an APTA Fact Sheet on the prohibition on Chinese rolling stock, please click here.
The Senate Banking Committee is also conducting two staff-led roundtables on public transportation. On February 27, the Committee held a staff roundtable entitled “Public Transportation Infrastructure Priorities: State Departments of Transportation Perspectives“, and featured representatives from the Ohio, Idaho, California, South Carolina, and Montana Departments of Transportation. On March 3, the Committee is holding a staff roundtable entitled “Public Transportation Infrastructure Priorities: Counties’ Transportation Perspectives“, and will include participants from the National Association of Counties; Caver County, Minnesota; Fulton County, Georgia; Orange County, New York; Washoe County, Nevada; and Miami-Dade County, Florida. For more information on the February 27 roundtable, please click here. For more information on the March 3 roundtable, please click here.
Lawmakers Express Support for Increasing Small Start Caps
On February 21, 23 Representatives, led by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), sent a bipartisan letter to House T&I Committee leaders asking them to increase the Small Start total capital cost cap from $300 million to $400 million and the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) cap from $100 million to $200 million for Small Start projects in the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization legislation. This request reflects APTA’s Recommendation to increase the Small Start total cost and CIG caps.
To view the letter, please click here.
On February 12, APTA, together with more than 40 other organizations, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) urging the Senate to consider S. 2302, the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA). ATIA, which the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously approved in July 2019, reauthorizes the highway and highway research titles of the FAST Act, which expires on September 30, 2020. To read the letter, please click here. For more information on S. 2302, please click here.
Also on February 12, APTA joined 27 members of the Public Finance Network (PFN) in sending a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) advocating for increased opportunities for states, municipalities, transportation authorities, and similar entities providing vital infrastructure to take advantage of tax-exempt bonds. To read the letter, please click here