Big Push Coming for New Highway Bill

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and numerous other organizations are behind the Make Transportation Job #1 campaign to have Congress act before March 31.

The Make Transportation Job #1 campaign is kicking off as the group Americans for Transportation Mobility and its allies urge Republicans and Democrats in Congress to enact a new surface transportation funding bill before March 31, when the latest extension of the current funding bill will expire.

ATM is a U.S. Chamber of Commerce group whose executive board includes the leaders of the American Public Transportation Association, the American Road Transportation Builders Association, Associated Equipment Distributors, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the International Union of Operating Engineers, Laborers International Union of North America, the National Asphalt Paving Association, and the chamber itself. Janet Kavinoky, executive director of transportation & infrastructure for the chamber, is vice president of ATM. She has asked supporting groups to join in signing a letter that will urge passage of a new bill and will be delivered to Capitol Hill on Jan. 23.

According to AGC, there are "encouraging signs" from the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee staff, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker John Boehner that a bill can be passed before the deadline. These multi-year funding bills usually contain significant safety mandates, such as providing money to encourage states to adopt graduated driver licensing laws or laws against texting while driving.

"Getting a highway and transit authorization bill passed in Congress and signed into law prior to March 31, 2012 will not be an easy task," AGC noted in a Jan. 13 release urging members to support the campaign. "It is vital," the association said, "that AGC members engage business associates (suppliers, subcontractors, insurance, bonding, financial services, etc.), labor organizations and other non-construction businesses in this effort. We need a true team effort to get this done. Passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress is not unheard of. Congressman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) wrote yesterday about the recent passage of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 as an example of how Congress can pass job creation legislation amid gridlock and partisan rancor."

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