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Breakthroughs Put Highway Bill Within Reach
Congress appears to be on the verge of reaching an agreement on the highway bill after an abrupt about-face from what looked like a certain need for a tenth temporary extension of the nation’s current transportation law.
Just last week it appeared that conference committee negotiations were breaking down and partisanship seemed to be winning over common sense congressional leadership. However, following a closed door June 20 meeting between House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL), conferees emerged committed to achieving a final conference report before the current law’s June 30 expiration.
On June 21, Boxer and Mica announced a tentative agreement on the surface transportation portion of the bill, including environmental streamlining and transportation enhancements, two sticking points during negotiations.
This is great news. The surface transportation portion is the bulk of the legislation and the agreement will allow other pieces of the law to fall into place.
However, we are not in the clear yet. In Washington, nothing is final until everything is final and significant divisions remain on provisions related to the Keystone XL pipeline, environmental streamlining, and a measure to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating fly ash as a hazardous waste.
This turnaround represents a remarkable shift from where the highway bill stood as earlier as last week. Partisanship was winning over common sense and congressional leadership was preparing to kick the can down the road with another six month extension of the federal highway program.
Be sure to participate in the Equipment Industry Action Day on June 26 and remind your lawmakers how important this bill is for America’s future. Even if you have done so in the past, visit www.AEDAction.org to send a letter to your lawmakers urging their support for a transportation bill before June 30. To have an even greater impact, call your lawmaker via the capital switchboard at 202-225-1904 and say that the time for politics is over and the time for a highway bill is now!
Article Date: 2012-06-25
Source: Associated Equipment Distributors
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