The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is poised to introduce a new surface transportation bill as early as this week, but want a commitment from the Senate Finance Committee to find a way to pay for it, a Capitol Hill source said this morning.

The committee, chaired by California Senator Barbara Boxer, will propose a two-year transportation bill that will cost $12 billion more than anticipated revenue from the Highway Trust Fund. Committee leaders believe it has a better chance of passing than the traditional six-year bill.

According to committee staff, the bill has strong bipartisan support from the committee’s “Big Four”: Boxer, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking member, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the chairman and ranking member of the highway subcommittee.

Baucus also is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. EPW leaders are taking the unusual step of getting Finance to commit to finding a way to pay for the bill. In the usual course of business, a committee passes an authorizing bill, then leaves it up to Finance to find funding.  According to the source, after the bill is released, Boxer would like to hold hearings and pass the bill to the Senate in July.  Although the bill has bipartisan support, some in the environmental community are concerned that it will be heavily weighted to highways rather than transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.  There is no word on when the House will introduce its version of the bill.

Source: Ubuntu Green E-Newsletter – June 28, 2011 >>read more


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