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Senate Debates Long-Term Highway and Transit Bill

News From the AGC of America

US Senate Begins Debate on Long-Term Highway and Transit BillBy a vote of 62–36, the Senate this evening voted to begin debate on the long-term highway and transit bill known as the “Drive Act.” The vote opens the way for the bill to be debated, amended and hopefully approved before the July 31, 2015 program expiration deadline. Thank you to those who contacted your Senators asking them to support the motion to begin debate on the bill. Please take the time now to thank your Senators who voted “yes” and express your disappointment to those Senators who voted “no” to move this transpiration bill forward in the Senate.

Today’s vote became necessary when a similar Senate vote failed yesterday largely along party lines. Democrats were concerned that they had not been given enough time to review the proposed bill when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Barbara Boxer (D–Cal.) announced that an agreement had been reached. Senators met in various forums most of today working out details and compromises to allow for this evening’s successful vote. Details on all of the compromises have not yet been made public.

This is not the end but the start of a serious effort to end the long string of short-term extensions that have plagued the highway and transit programs over the last several years. Leader McConnell announced following the vote that the Senate will begin consideration of the Drive Act tomorrow. Earlier today he said the Senate would meet in a rare Saturday (and possibly Sunday) session in an effort to complete action. The bill still faces many obstacles before it can be adopted, including efforts to attach extraneous amendments unrelated to transportation. If the Senate adopts the bill it then faces an uncertain future in the House which has already passed a five month extension through the end of the year. Both the House and Senate will be in recess for the month of August so time it short.

AGC chapters and members were very active in contacting their Senators over the past several days through the Hardhats for Highways campaign and in other ways asking them to endorse the motion. Please take the time to go to the Hardhats for Highways website and thank your Senators who voted in favor and urge those who did not to support a six year transportation reauthorization bill (vote link here). In order to have a successful outcome contact with your elected representatives is vital. Even if you did not have time to contact your Senators before today’s vote please let them know that you are aware of their vote and want them to support a long-term measure.

AGCA will be monitoring the debate and will let us know when further contact may be necessary on key provisions impacting the construction industry. Your support is necessary and appreciated.

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