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Highway Bill Still Stalled

NSSGA’s Government Affairs Committee met on May 30 during the TCC Fly-In to discuss surface transportation reauthorization and plot strategy on how members can ensure transportation reauthorization is completed this year.

NSSGA members received a briefing from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee member Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) on the status of the conference negotiations on the reauthorization bill. NSSGA transportation consultant and former Vice Chairman of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission Jack Shenendorf followed, providing his insight on prospects going forward.

Government Affairs Committee Chairman Pete Lien, Pete Lien & Sons, Rapid City, S.D., led his first meeting and attendees heard from NSSGA Senior Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Pam Whitted on the most recent developments on legislative matters including reauthorization, the 2013 budget and appropriations process, the Clean Water Jurisdictional Guidance and regulatory reform.

According to the Associated Equipment Distributors, Conference Chairman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) planned to roll out a draft highway bill conference report last week, but House Republican conferees are casting Boxer’s move as a negotiating tactic and heaping criticism on the process. With very little time remaining until the June 30 expiration of highway authority, the coming weeks are pivotal in efforts to produce a bill.

Although the construction industry is delivering a message to Congress to pass the bill, lawmakers have yet to develop a viable approach for moving the process along. This inertia led conferee Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) to call on supporters of the highway bill to double down on efforts urging Congress to pass this legislation. Hultgren told AED and other industry supporters on the call that without a reminder of the bill’s importance from constituents, it risks being bogged down by inaction.