On Thursday, October 22, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved by unanimous voice vote H.R. 3764, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, a bipartisan $325 billion multi-year authorization of public transportation and highway programs introduced by Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), and Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). During a markup that spanned over five hours, the members of the Committee disposed of over 150 amendments, with 40 amendments included in a comprehensive Managers’ amendment, five additional amendments adopted en-bloc, and a handful of other individual amendments accepted by the committee. Two roll call votes were taken on amendments with each amendment failing by large margins. The remainder of the amendments offered were discussed by the sponsors and withdrawn from consideration after the Chairman and Ranking Member jointly indicated that they either could not agree to include the amendment, or they would continue to work with the sponsors to address concerns as the bill moved forward.
The Manager’s amendment, offered by Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio addressed some of APTA’s concerns over language in the bill lowering the federal share for new starts projects from a maximum of 80 percent to a maximum of 50 percent. The language in the manager’s package requires that the federal share for a new starts project is a maximum of 50 percent and the federal share for a core capacity or small starts project is a maximum of 80 percent.
Representatives Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) asked for consideration of their amendment which would eliminate the language in the bill limiting the flexibility of other DOT program funds such as surface transportation program (STP), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), or TIGER grant funds being used as the local match for both new starts and state of good repair projects. Representatives Lipinski and Nadler both expressed their deep concern for this language in the bill, but they withdrew their amendment based on a commitment by Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio to continue to work on the language in the bill.
It is critical that you continue to reach out to your House delegations regarding the need to preserve the current eligibility that transit project sponsors have when using flexible highway funds for their local share on new starts and state of good repair projects. We also ask that you send information to APTA staff on the impacts this language would have on your projects as we work with Committee staff, Representatives Lipinski and Nadler on this issue.
The Manager’s amendment also included a number of provisions of interest to public transportation:
A full list of the amendments included in the Manager’s amendment can be found here.
- An amendment by Representative Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) to increase the Small Transit Intensive Cities (STIC) incentive grant set-aside to 2 percent by 2019;
- An amendment by Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA) to rescind and redistribute money that ferry systems have not used within three years of the allocation;
- An amendment by Representative Lipinski (D-IL) to clarify technical assistance eligibility for zero-emission bus deployment projects;
- An amendment by Representative Napolitano (D-CA) to authorize any paratransit system currently coordinating complementary paratransit service for more than 40 fixed route agencies to continue using an existing tiered, distance-based coordinated paratransit fare system;
- An amendment by Highways and Transit Subcommittee Ranking Member Norton (D-DC) providing for direct FTA oversight over the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA);
- An amendment by Representative Sires (D-NJ) encouraging Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to create congestion mitigation plans;
- Amendments by Representative Johnson (D-TX) expanding the University Transportation Center (UTC) activities to women and underrepresented populations, and to provide a preference for minority institutions as seeking UTC funding;
- An amendment by Representative Lipinski (D-IL) to limit nonprofit institutions of higher education or the lead institution of a consortium of nonprofit institutions of higher education, to only submit one grant application per fiscal year for each of the transportation centers.
The text of the manager’s amendment can be found here
One of the amendments that was accepted by the committee was one offered by Representative Lipinski, that would provide for FTA technical assistance for compliance with Buy America domestic content requirements.
An amendment was offered and withdrawn by Representative Cresent Hardy (R-NV), would have substantially increased the bus and bus facilities competitive grant program, by cutting the TIFIA program and through increased authorizations of General Fund appropriations.
Another amendment offered by Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA) would have inserted the APTA-endorsed “Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act” as a financing mechanism, as the legislation did not include a finance title. This amendment was withdrawn.
The full text of the bill as introduced (prior to committee consideration and amendment) may be found here
For further detail on the bill as introduced, please see APTA’s previous Legislative Update here
It is anticipated that this bill will come before the full House of Representatives next week, or the week following. The current extended MAP-21 authorization expires on October 29th, making another short-term extension inevitable to allow for time for the Senate and House of Representatives to have a conference to reconcile differences in the chambers’ long-term surface transportation bills.