Thursday, December 20, 2007

Federal Legislative Update (Courtesy of APTA)

ADJOURNMENT! Both chambers of Congress adjourned last night. The Senate will conduct pro forma sessions approximately every 3 days to prevent President Bush from making any controversial recess appointments. The second session of the 110th Congress is scheduled to convene on January 15, but no work is scheduled to begin until January 22.

APPROPRIATIONS: The House passed the revised FY 2008 omnibus yesterday by a 272-142 vote, awarding $70 billion in unfettered funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Included in the legislation is $9.4 billion for transit. The President is expected to sign the bill because of the additional war funding, but to give him more time to review the appropriations measure, both chambers passed another continuing resolution (CR), funding the government through Dec. 31. The current CR expires tomorrow night.

FEDERAL AGENCIES: On December 18, the Transportation Department requested information on commercially available technologies that can minimize congestion and improve the safety and performance of the country’s transportation system. Private industry, research groups, and state & local governments will vie to partner with the department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) to do field testing of these technologies in a project known as “SafeTrip-21”. The project will expand on current use of information and communications technology to assist travelers in navigation, accident prevention, avoiding congested areas, and receiving real-time transit information. SafeTrip-21 is expected to be launched at the 2008 Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Federal Legislative Update

All updates courtesy of APTA


The Appropriations omnibus to fund domestic programs in 2008 continues to change frequently. Following Rep. Obey’s comments on Tuesday 12/11 to strip earmarks, legislators from both sides and in both chambers started working on a bill that would keep “vital” earmarks, but still earn the necessary votes.

The Senate may begin discussion as early as Thursday on a $523 billion bill that funds the remaining agencies, as well as offers interim financing for the wars and other emergency needs. GOP leaders in both chambers also indicated on Tuesday that they might be willing to bend a little on the $933 billion cap Bush had placed on all approps bills. They hinted support for a spending package that adheres to the limit offered by Bush, but won’t count the $7-$9 billion in emergency funds into that total.

Sen. McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, plans to offer an amendment that would reach the President’s numbers through an across-the-board cut of 2.5%.

Senate Republicans are predicted to offer an amendment to provide $70 billion in war funding.

Because discussions on an omnibus spending bill have not been fruitful, it almost is inevitable that another short-term continuing resolution will be filed to fund the government while debate continues.

The Energy bill has been amended to remove a national renewable electricity mandate. The revised bill, including the tax package, is expected to be brought to the Senate floor before the end of the week.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Congress Reconvenes: Takes up Transportation Issues

All reports courtesy of APTA

In terms of Transportation Appropriations, Congress is preparing for an end of year appropriations “omnibus” to include the remaining 11 unsigned spending bills (which includes the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development or "THUD" bill). Efforts have been made to “split the difference” between the funding level requested by Bush and the level appropriated in Congress (a difference of about $22 billion). The new appropriations package will provide $484 billion, about $10.6 billion less than Congress had wanted to spend. If Bush rejects this compromise, Democrats will be forced to decide what programs to continue to fund at current or elevated levels, and what funding to cut. There is a conference meeting tentatively scheduled for Dec. 11 so that the bill can be sent to the President prior to Dec. 14 (when the current funding through a CR expires).

Energy Legislation
Over the recess, staff from both parties negotiated an Energy bill that is likely to see floor action in the House on Wednesday. The bill is a compromise that raises CAFÉ standards to 35 mpg by 2020 and also makes concessions to the automotive industry. Senate Republicans are expected to filibuster if the measure makes it to the floor, but Senate Majority Leader Reid claims to have the 60 votes needed to beat the filibuster. The White House has already threatened a veto.

The Senate EPW Committee will hold a mark-up of S.2191, the Lieberman/Warner climate change bill, on Wednesday, December 5 at 9 a.m. Sen. Boxer, Chair of the EPW committee predicts the bill to be brought up on the Senate floor in February if it passes out of committee. Also, in the House, Reps. Dingell and Boucher are working on climate change legislation to be introduced in early 2008.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pre Thanksgiving Recess Congressional Action (Courtesy of APTA)

The U.S. House and Senate are out of session until Tuesday November 27th. They were unable to complete work on spending measures before Thanksgiving, and are considering a new spending bill to wrap up the remaining 11 approps bill into an omnibus package. The new bill will “split the difference” of the $22 billion that Congress intends to appropriate over the level proposed by the President. This leaves approximately $484 billion for the remaining 11 bills.

In action before the recess:

· On Wednesday (11.14), the House approved the Transportation-HUD approps bill (H.R. 3074) by 270-147, eight votes shy of the veto-proof margin. The White House reiterated the veto threat, as the bill is $3 billion above the level requested by the President. The Senate failed to consider the spending bill before leaving for Thanksgiving recess.
· The President vetoed the Labor-HHS (H.R. 3043) spending bill. The House subsequently failed to override the veto by a 277-141 margin.
· The President did sign into law the appropriations bill for the Department of Defense (H.R. 3222); attached was the CR to fund the government to Dec. 14.
· Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) introduced two bills (H.R. 4122 and H.R. 4123) on Nov. 8th to support the development of high-speed rail in the US and provide for the creation of a national high-speed rail authority , respectively. Both bills were referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Legislative Update, Week of 10/29

Climate Change! Earlier this week, the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on private sector and consumer solutions to global warming and wildlife protection marked-up S.2191, America's Climate Security Act of 2007. The Lieberman/Warner bill includes suggestions for nine categories to which states can provide funding to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gases. Public transportation has been named as one of the nine. The bill, with amendments, passed out of the subcommittee by a 4-3 vote and will be reviewed by the full EPW committee in mid-November.

Disabled Access: Earlier this week, the House Transportation & Infrastructure committee approved HR. 3985, a bill that authorizes the revocation of operating licenses of commercial buses not complying with federal accessibility regulations for the disabled.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Upcoming NAPTA Membership Webinar

Can’t come to Florida for the Rail~Volution conference? Still want to participate in the NAPTA membership meeting on Saturday November 3rd at 12:15pm? We have good news for you.

As you know, we are in the midst of reviewing NAPTA’s mission, goals and services. One of our first tasks will be to gather at NAPTA membership meeting at Rail~Volution, 2007 for a discussion of the future of NAPTA.

For those unable to join in person, you can connect to the session online through a webinar. Register at, where you will get more information about how to access the event.

During the meeting we’ll discuss ideas for the future of NAPTA, including new services, and resources. You’ll also have an opportunity to learn about APTA’s local coalition grant program and other potential revenue resources for NAPTA members.
We hope you’ll be able to join us online --

Monday, October 29, 2007

Federal Legislative Updates from APTA

From APTA President Bill Millar:

House and Senate Appropriations Committee staff have begun pre-conference negotiations on the Fiscal Year 2008 Transportation, Treasury, and HUD Appropriations bill, but the timeline for final passage is unclear. The likely scenario is that the legislation will become part of a large Omnibus package sometime after the Thanksgiving recess.

Pre-conference negotiations have begun on energy legislation. Both the House and Senate versions of the bills include provisions that would promote public transit use as a means to reduce energy consumption and decrease the nation's dependence on imported oil.

APTA will file final comments on FTA's proposed New Starts regulation and the accompanying guidance on November 1, and continue to collect input on the five open rulemakings that remain. To find out more, click HERE.