Congress is in session.
EPW Surface Reauthorization Bill and Markup Expected Next Week
The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee will introduce a 5-year, $287 billion highway title, the first step toward reauthorizing the current FAST Act. A markup of the bill is expected in Committee next week. Originally anticipated on August 1, the bill’s release could be moved earlier depending on when the Senate decides to adjourn for the extended August recess.
Though the details are not yet known, a few broader themes have emerged. We are expecting new programs on safety and resilience, which will apparently have formula and discretionary components. Funds for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), which are currently 50% suballocated to local areas, would increase to 57.5% under the Senate bill. TAP funds will also have proportional obligation, which means states would be much more likely to spend these dollars than under current law. Other items include a alternative fuels corridor program, a large urbanized area congestion discretionary program, and a focus on cutting red tape. NARC will do a full analysis of relevant portions of the bill when it is released.
Budget Caps, Debt Limit Bill Expected to Pass House Today
House lawmakers have expressed confidence that a two-year budget and debt ceiling deal will pass in a vote later today. The 26-page bill would increase discretionary spending limits by nearly $324 billion over two years, compared to the strict current caps that were imposed under 2011 law. Lawmakers are eager to get budget caps in place in order to have an easier path for spending over the next two years. The Senate is also expected to consider the spending caps and debt limit bill before leaving for the annual August recess next week, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY).