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House Passes Six-Year Transportation Reauthorization Bill

The House of Representatives plowed through about 270 amendments this week, with floor votes on nearly 130 of them, before passing the Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act of 2015 (STRR Act) with funding for three years.
November 6, 2015, 6am PST | Irvin Dawid
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Three days of intense work by the House Rules Committee and floor votes on nearly 130 amendments culminated in the passage of the STRR Act (H.R.3763) in a 363-64 vote on Nov. 5. "It calls for spending $261 billion on highways and $55 billion on transit over six years," writes Keith Laing of The Hill.

Politico put the passage of the bill into perspective—written before the final floor vote was taken.

The House is on the cusp of something huge today — passing the first long-term highway and transit bill in a decade. Yes, you read that right — the last time a transportation bill longer than two years made it to the president’s desk was 2005, the year YouTube was founded.

One amendment that didn't make it to the floor but nonetheless received a great deal of debate was a 15-cent gas tax increase by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

"The biggest and most glaring omission by the Rules Committee is not allowing any attempt by this House to fund the bill. I mean, that's pretty extraordinary," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who is the top ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said during Wednesday's debate on the highway bill.   

However, the House also rejected a non-binding amendment from Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) to reduce the gas tax, a concept also known as devolution

"The STRR Act provides strong reforms and policies to help us improve America’s transportation system, and now we can get to work on resolving the differences with the Senate bill and carry a final measure over the goal line," House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) said in a press release.

As explained earlier, the House used "H.R. 22 (the Senate's DRIVE Act) to move its version of the transportation bill to the floor."

The Senate passed the 6-year DRIVE Act on Oct. 22. The House-Senate conference committee needs to come to an agreement before the 3-week transportation extension expires on Nov. 20.

"The measure also includes a reauthorization of the controversial Export-Import Bank's charter, which has been held up in Congress since it expired in June," adds Laing.

Cristina Marcos and Vicki Needham contributed to The Hill report. 

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Published on Thursday, November 5, 2015 in The Hill
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