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Senate Passes Transportation Bill

A new transportation bill (MAP-21), which would fund some $109 billion dollars in transportation-related projects, has passed the Senate by a vote of 74-22. In the House, Speaker John Boehner has said that bringing the Senate bill up for a vote would be an option upon its passage in the upper house. This comes on the heels of bipartisan objections to the transportation bill offered by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, primarily because of a measure that would eliminate a guaranteed funding source for the nation’s mass transit systems.

The House has since abandoned that measure, but may be poised to offer its own reworked bill--an option that could lead to another short-term extension of the current transportation legislation. Below is an outline of what you need to know about the newly-passed Senate bill:

MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century)

  • 2-year transportation bill 
  • Maintains dedicated funding for public transportation initiatives at FY2012 levels
  • Restores Transit Benefit Parity (Increases the pre-tax benefit from $125/month back to $230/month)
  • Funded primarily through federal gasoline tax
  • Would replace SAFETEA-LU, the nation’s most recent transportation bill that expired in September 2009 and was extended numerous times since. The latest extension is set to expire March 31.
  • Consolidates core highway programs and sub-programs
  • Increases focus on performance measures, with congestion being a key measure
  • More local choice for Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ) funding; states would be required to notify local governments of funding opportunities.