Congress passed a transportation bill on Friday that represents $54 billion a year in spending and the continuation of 2 to 3 million jobs across the U.S. It passed in the House by a vote of 373-52, and in the Senate by a 74-19 vote.
It is remarkable that a bi-partisan transportation bill which is good through September 2014 came out of gridlocked Washington AT ALL. The last one was penned in 2005 and our country has limped along on at least 9 extensions since then.
The bill passed last Friday also gave relief to America’s college students when it avoided a doubling of Stafford loan interest rates [which would've taken place today] and it helped my state by providing Wisconsin $1.4 billion in highway funding over the next two years. It also helped Wisconsin’s Fox Valley with “funding flexibility for transit systems in Green Bay and Appleton.”
According to Chicago Tribune, “The bill also extend funding for the National Flood Insurance Program to September 30, 2017. It had been set to expire at the end of July, in the middle of hurricane season.”
The Restore Act portion of the bill is of utmost importance to Gulf Coast states. According to Bruce Alpert of Times-Picayune the Restore Act “allocates 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 BP spill to Louisiana and the four other Gulf states.” From $5 billion and $20 billion could come to the area depending on the amount of “negligence the responsible parties are willing to admit to, or, if negotiations fail, the degree of negligence determined by a federal judge.” – More at NOLA.com
However there are holes in the bill such as a loss of repair funds for roads and bridges and a slashing of bicycle money by 60 to 70 percent.
Get more on the pluses and minuses at DC Streets Blog’s “A New Bill Passes, But America’s Transpo Policy Stays Stuck in 20th Century”.