The head of the trade group representing state transportation departments said he expects key committees in Congress to approve legislation in July for a multi-year funding plan for highway and transit programs.
John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, said he expects the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to unveil as early as the week of June 20 a six-year, $218 billion plan that funds programs at existing levels based on projected Highway Trust Fund receipts.
That would be far less than the last bill, passed in 2005, and well below the $556 billion spending plan proposed by the Obama administration in its 2012 budget.
Leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have said they will offer a $339 billion plan. Horsley told the Transportation Research Forum in Washington, D.C., he expects the Senate panel to offer its plan soon after the T&I version is available, and thinks both should complete work on their separate bills in July.
That schedule would allow consideration by the full House and Senate later in the summer, setting up a legislative conference to work out differences between competing versions.
Horsley told The Journal of Commerce that given the lower amounts being discussed by the two main congressional panels, he expects their bills to only address traditional core highway, transit and related programs while leaving out newer plans, including the intercity passenger rail program and infrastructure grant pools that would require money outside the trust fund revenue projections.
The shape of any final bills could still change in coming weeks, if ongoing deficit-reduction negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders leave room for additional infrastructure investment. President Obama has regularly said we need to build up the transport system more to be competitive in world markets.