Senate Approves 08 Transportation Spending Bill, Adds $1 Billion in Bridge Funds
By a vote of 88-7, the Senate, Wednesday, approved the FY 2008 Transportation Appropriations Bill. An amendment offered by transportation subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to add $1 billion in funding to address structurally deficient bridges was approved by a vote of 60-33. The bill fully funds the SAFETEA-LU guaranteed funding level of $40.2 billion for the highway program and, with the additional bridge funding, brings the grand total in highway program funds to $41.2 billion.
This is a $2.1 billion increase over the FY 2007 level. The additional bridge funds will be apportioned to states under the existing bridge allocation formula and will be limited in use to meeting specific bridge needs. The bill also provides $3.5 billion (same as FY 07) in airport improvement grants, and transit funding of $9.7 billion, a $700 million increase over FY 2007. The House passed its version of the bill previously which does not include the bridge funding. The two different versions of the legislation must now be reconciled in conference. The Administration objects to the overall funding level in the bill and other specific funding concerns and threatened a veto if these issues are not resolved.
In addition, the Senate addressed a few other interesting amendments:
Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) offered and amendment to suspend Davis-Bacon on bridges rated “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.” It failed by a vote of 37 to 56.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offered an amendment that would prohibit funds in the bill from being used for earmarks. It failed by a vote of 14 to 84. Senator Coburn also offered an amendment that would have redirected highway funds from any bike path projects to projects that would improve bridge or road safety. This amendment failed by a vote of 18 to 80.
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) offered an amendment that would study the use of recycled materials in highway projects with the goal of encouraging their use. It was agreed to by voice vote.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) offered and amendment to spend up to $195 million in federal emergency funds (financed from the general fund) to rebuild the Interstate I-35 bridge in Minnesota. It was agreed to by voice vote.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) offered an amendment that would prohibit the imposition and collection of new tolls on highways built with federal funds in Texas unless the state first pays back the federal government for the cost of building the highway.
Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) offered an amendment that was adopted by voice vote. The amendment would require all contractors doing transportation work to certify compliance with federal tax laws. Because this amendment was added at the last minute, AGC is trying to determine exactly how it will be implemented.
For more information, contact Karen Bachman at (202) 547-4733 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
return to top ]