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.

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