Transportation spending bill advances out of committee, sans amendments

June 5, 2018

Greg Grisolano

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A Senate Appropriations panel on Tuesday advanced its transportation and infrastructure bill without any amendments, a move the committee says is aimed at garnering bipartisan support for the bill’s approval.

The bill would provide $71.4 billion in discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies. That is a $1.1 billion increase over 2018 levels. Of that total, $26.6 billion would go to the U.S. DOT, nearly $700 million below the 2018 enacted level.

The bill also contains funding for various transportation safety programs and agencies within the DOT, including $956 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and $667 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The bill also includes $275 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to “help address safety concerns related to recent pipeline and crude oil by rail accidents,” according to a news release issued Tuesday.

The bill goes in front of the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

During the subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, and ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., provided general opening statements in support, noting that the bill does not contain any riders or amendments.

Jay Grimes, director of federal affairs at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said OOIDA is pleased that the bill does not include any provisions increasing the truck size and weight or any language restricting driver compensation and labor protections.

“We are optimistic that the committee would reject any attempts to insert these harmful provisions into the legislation at Thursday’s full committee markup,” Grimes said.

In related news, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday he has cancelled three weeks of Senate’s typical monthlong August recess, citing “historic obstruction” by Democrats. He said senators will use the time working to approve spending bills and nominations. Senators are still expected to have the first week of August off.

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.