EPW Committee Unanimously Passes Surface Reauthorization Bill

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed a five-year, $303.5 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill on May 26 by a unanimous vote of 20-0.

Entitled the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021, the bill boosts total highway funding from fiscal year 2022 to 2026 by 34 percent over the baseline established by the one-year extension of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act passed in October 2020.

The EPW’s bill also provides $273.2 billion or 90 percent of its total funding via formula apportionments to states and retains all current core formula programs, including a 55 percent suballocation for Surface Transportation Block Grant programs.

Sen. Carper

“I’m proud that we’ve advanced a robust, bipartisan investment in our nation’s highways, roads, and bridges,” noted Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the EPW committee chairman, in a statement. “This legislation is an important first step in the critical work needed to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure in a way that creates jobs, combats climate change, and lifts up all Americans for a brighter future.”

“The Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act is the product of months of good-faith negotiations with a lot of back and forth,” added Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the committee’s ranking member.

Se. Capito

“The quality of the bill and today’s overwhelmingly bipartisan vote are a testament to the care, time, and effort of both Republicans and Democrats,” she said, noting this bill “takes meaningful steps” to repair the nation’s roads and bridges, create jobs, and simplify the permitting process.

“The bill is flexible to states’ unique needs and responsive to the urgent need for investment,” Sen. Capito pointed out.

“The proposed [bill] provides much-needed program stability through its five-year funding platform,” noted Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official, in a statement.

Jim Tymon

“The bill also continues to utilize the proven foundation of the Federal-aid Highway Program,” he said

According to an analysis by AASHTO, EPW’s surface transportation bill – originally unveiled on May 22 – offers several new discretionary and climate-focused programs, including:

  • The creation of a carbon reduction formula-based program providing an average of $1.3 billion per year.
  • A PROTECT formula-based program to fund resiliency investments at an average of $1.5 billion per year.
  • Restores funding eligibility for non-infrastructure activities and behavioral safety projects up to 10 percent under Highway Safety Improvement Program
  • Continued development support for alternative user fees at the state level through the Strategic Innovation for Revenue Collection program, currently known as Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives Program. The bill also seeks to establish a National Motor Vehicle Per-Mile User Fee Pilot program.
  • Provides $250 million for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act or TIFIA loans annually
  • Funds Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects via Infrastructure for Rebuilding or INFRA grants) to the tune of $960 million per year
  • A spate of new discretionary grant programs such as: a Bridge Investment Program support by $653 million from Highway Trust Fund and another $653 million from general fund; $500 million in Charging and Fueling Infrastructure grants; $400 million for Rural Surface Transportation grants; $50 million for a Congestion Relief Program; $50 million for a Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities program; and $100 million from the general fund to support a Healthy Streets Program.

Access the full text of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act by clicking here. Additional materials include a section-by-section breakdown of the bill along with tables for state-by-state apportionments and authorizations.

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