Right before the July 4th recess, the U.S. Congress did something extraordinary – it finally reached agreement on a modest extension of the long-awaited highway bill. Signed into law by President Obama on July 6, the $105 billion transportation bill provides federal funding for highway and transit projects for the next 27 months.
While the business community, including ABA, supported a longer-term bill, the overall response to the legislation has been positive.
The bill, known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), ends a frustrating, nearly three-year period in which members of Congress were unable to find enough common ground to pass a bill and instead, opted for temporary extensions. As a result, many vital infrastructure projects were put on hold at a time when U.S. businesses are facing increased competition from abroad and higher operating costs at home.
Some key provisions include:
- Providing funding certainty through FY 2014 (Sept. 30, 2014)
- Reducing the number of highway programs by two-thirds
- Modernizing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s approach to truck and bus safety by increasing the use of technology and data to drive enforcement efforts
- Increasing driver training and implementing a drug and alcohol testing clearinghouse