• ITVI.USA
    15,536.540
    74.080
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.754
    0.002
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.490
    -0.180
    -0.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,507.170
    69.970
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,536.540
    74.080
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.754
    0.002
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.490
    -0.180
    -0.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,507.170
    69.970
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American Shipper

Graves sours on transport bill’s chances

   American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves recently cast doubt on the ability of Congress to pass a bill in the near future reauthorizing federal surface transportation programs.
   Optimism for a new spending blueprint increased after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this month approved a two-year, $85 billion bill funding highway maintenance, safety and transit programs and House Republicans said they would consider finding revenue sources beyond the receipts in the Highway Trust Fund.
   Collections from federal fuel taxes and certain excise taxes on commercial vehicles have steadily decreased to about $35 billion from more than $40 billion four years ago. The trust fund has been unable to keep up with project obligations made by states based on the earlier revenue projections in the SAFETEA-LU multi-year bill that expired in September 2009, leading to a shortfall and a series of multi-billion bailouts from the U.S. Treasury’s General Fund.
   Transportation programs have been operating under temporary extensions in lieu of a multi-year bill, the most recent of which expires March 31. The funding uncertainty has made it difficult for states to plan major projects into the future.
   House Speaker John Boehner reversed course in September, saying he was committed to funding a five-year transportation bill at current levels and would allow a bill to advance that augments the amount in the Highway Trust Fund. The change is a function of House Republicans identifying transportation as the vehicle for creating jobs to counter President Barack Obama’s proposed Jobs Act.
   Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure highways and transit subcommittee, expressed optimisim in a video brief posted on the web site of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials that a surface transportation reauthorization bill would be approved in the current session of Congress, which runs through end of next year.
   One of the reasons he gave is that transportation infrastructure is generally supported by lawmakers in both parties and that transportation is one of the few major bills that won’t get stalled in the Senate after being approved by the House.
   A major sticking point is how to pay for a larger bill. The Senate has not identified how to come up with $12 billion to make its version budget neutral and House Republicans have raised the idea of tapping royalties from expanded offshore oil and gas drilling, which is likely to be rejected by Democrats on environmental grounds.
   “I’m not optimistic that we’re going to see a blending of those two proposals in a conference committee that will end up on the president’s desk any time soon,” Graves told American Shipper after delivering a speech Nov. 17 at a freight sustainability summit in Washington. “In fact, I’m still skeptical that we’ll see legislation occur next year.”
   Asked about how Obama administration attempts to impose new regulations governing labor, the environment and safety are impacting motor carriers, Graves said the biggest worry is the gridlock in Washington that prevents action on subjects of importance to the industry.
   “On the one hand there’s frustration that you can’t get some things done. On the other hand, there’s almost a certain degree of relief that nothing’s getting done because that means nothing bad is happening,” the former governor of Kansas said without citing specifics such as the failed attempt in 2010 to advance climate change legislation that would have forced industries to pay for excess carbon emissions.
   The lack of progress on a surface transportation bill means that provisions that the ATA seeks to include, such as getting relief for installing the latest safety technologies and creating a national clearinghouse for drug and alcohol tests so that positive results follow a driver when applying to other trucking companies, won’t become law.  —  Eric Kulisch

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