House of Representatives expected to vote by July 4 on surface transportation bill
House spent more than 24 hours on markup of INVEST in America Act
The Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act is headed for a full vote in the House of Representatives prior to July 4, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) who said voting could begin as early as June 30.
After a markup process that lasted a little more than 24 hours, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee voted to pass the INVEST in America Act late Thursday night. The committee voted along party lines, 35-25, to pass the five-year surface transportation reauthorization through the committee. The markup saw the consideration of 177 amendments over a two-day span that, at times, became heated as Republicans made it clear they believed they were shut out in drafting the $494 billion package.
Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) issued a statement saying he was pleased the committee had passed the reauthorization ahead of the current legislation’s Sept. 30 expiration.
“For far too long, Congress has taken a pass on trying to solve the toughest problems plaguing our surface transportation system, allowing it to limp along and fall farther and farther behind the rest of the world,” DeFazio said. “That all changes with the INVEST in America Act, transformational legislation that moves our country into a new era of smarter, safer, more resilient infrastructure that fits our changing economy and society.”
The committee ultimately accepted 34 Republican and 23 Democratic amendments; however, Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) said he did not believe the process was the bipartisan solution needed for this legislation, and laid the blame at the feet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“… we’re not marking up a bipartisan ‘Highway Bill’ today - we’re marking up the Majority’s ‘My Way or the Highway Bill’,” Graves stated in his opening remark. “Maybe that was inevitable, given the partisan agenda the Speaker has been pursuing throughout the Congress.”
One amendment ATSSA supported that was not included in the final bill, was introduced by Road Safety Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR). His amendment would have struck language allowing for funds designated for the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) to be pushed out of the program. The INVEST in America Act allows up to 10% of HSIP funding to be flexed out of this program and distributed to other non-infrastructure safety programs.
The INVEST in America Act will be part of a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, the Moving Forward Act. On the Senate side, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee passed the America’s Transportation and Infrastructure Act (ATIA) through the committee last year in a vote that received bipartisan support.
ATSSA President and CEO Stacy Tetschner issued a statement on the Transportation & Infrastructure markup here.
ATSSA hosted a virtual Town Hall discussion of the INVEST in America Act on Tuesday featuring Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), who chairs the Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee and was among the Democrats introducing the act. The session recording is available.
ATSSA’s Government Relations Team provided analysis of the original version of the INVEST in America Act.