Federal Report: 2nd edition
Spring has sprung, the presidential primaries continue to narrow the field, and the highway re-authorization legislation expired March 31, 2012.
What happened? Back in February, there was considerable movement on the re-authorization bill. The Senate proposed an 18-month bill (S 1813) so as not to have to find additional revenue in the out years. However, Senator Reid failed a cloture vote in mid February by 54-42, and the bill was dead before it hit the floor.
The House proposed a much more ambitious bill (HR 7) allowing re-authorization until the end of FY 2016. However, Speaker Boehner was unable to wrangle the necessary votes and is now moving to a shorter length bill, similar to the Senate version. The House passed an Energy bill over to the Senate and the possibility existed to add the transportation bill to the Energy bill when it returned to the House. Ultimately, the Senate did pass S. 1813 in mid March by a vote of 74-22. Texas' senior Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, voted to support the highway bill, whereas Senator Cornyn opposed its passage. The two year bill would allocate 109 Billion over the life of the bill.
The House has been unable to muster the votes to bring its bill to the floor. Presently, the legislation is not even scheduled on the calendar for March. With the March 31 deadline fast approaching, the House will have to pass another continuing resolution. This will be the 9th resolution passed in lieu of legislation.
A Federal Work Group has been established within the Chapter’s Highway Funding Task Force. Chaired by Bob Lanham, this newly formed group is focusing not only on the highway reauthorization bill, but getting our members informed and active at the federal level. Several initiatives have taken place.
The Federal Work Group is shaping up to be the information conduit to the Chapter on what is happening with the federal highway legislation. We will make recommendations to the AGC membership on when and how to get involved and provide timely information on what is really happening at the federal level.
Currently, the work group is considering developing access to AGC of America’s Legislative Action Center on our website. We will work through the area chairmen to help disseminate this information and background materials once an agreement has been reached.
The work group will also coordinate the chapter’s participation in the national fly-in to Washington and perhaps even look at a Texas-specific fly-in at a later date. By participating in a fly-in to Washington, members are able to meet with their Congressional members and other elected leaders from the Texas delegation. It allows a first hand look at how legislation is passed in Washington and provides valuable, real-time information.
The Federal Work Group intends to create a “voting score card” that will track a series of votes taken by the Texas Congressional delegation. The work group understands our members are constantly being asked to make campaign contributions to elected leaders, and it would be helpful to know how legislators vote. The work group is determining some key votes and will put together a “voting score card” in the next two months and update it with each important vote on the highway reauthorization bill, the budget, and other key votes to our industry.
As always, involvement is the key to success! There are so many different directions our members are taken in and so much information to absorb. It is this Chapter’s goal to provide timely information and to make it easy for you to get involved and help shape the outcome.